FIH Series Finals to stay in cyclone-hit Bhubaneswar: Hockey India
Hockey India allayed concerns the FIH Series Finals may have to be shifted out of Bhubaneswar in the aftermath of Cylone Fani, confirming on Monday that the June 6-15 tournament will be in the Odisha capital as scheduled.
A federation official told Hindustan Times on Saturday that the tournament, the first step in the qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, may have to be moved out if the organisers can’t repair damage caused to the stadium by the cyclone.
“We’ve just three weeks to set things right. Foreign teams will start reaching Bhubaneswar around May 29-30. We need to decide about the venue in a day or two,” a HI insider said on Saturday on condition of anonymity. “Even some foreign teams are enquiring about the situation in Bhubaneswar.”
“Lucknow and Raipur have the best available turfs right now, and if we can’t repair the Kalinga Stadium (in Bhubaneswar) within three weeks, we’ll have to shift to one of these places.”
However, HI CEO Elena Norman said the tournament will stay in the original venue. “There is no plan to shift the FIH Series Finals from Bhubaneswar. The event will go ahead as per schedule despite the cyclone. There is no major damage to the stadium,” she said over phone from Australia.
“FIH has not questioned HI. It is aware that the tournament can still go ahead as per schedule.”
When contacted, the international hockey federation (FIH) said it is in touch with the Indian federation to assess the situation.
Odisha authorities, now engaged in massive rehabilitation and rebuilding of infrastructure, also surveyed the Kalinga Stadium to assess the damage.
“The hockey stadium is absolutely fine. It doesn’t even have a roof. There is no damage to the field of play. There is damage to the floodlights. Some seats were blown away in the storm but the turf is absolutely fine. The damages are repairable,” an Odisha sports department official said on condition of anonymity.
“We have lost some electricity poles, which has stopped the flow of water in the city. Because there is no electricity, there is cash crunch as ATMs are not working, neither are mobile networks. The issues are being fixed phase-wise and will take a bit of time but the tournament will go ahead here.”
The Kalinga Stadium hosted the 2014 Champions Trophy, 2017 Hockey World League Final and the showpiece World Cup in November-December.
The finalists in the FIH Series Finals will secure a place in the qualification events for Tokyo that will be held in November.
India are in Pool A with Poland, Russia and Uzbekistan while Pool B has South Africa, Japan, Mexico and US. India will open against Russia on June 6.