Hockey India withdraws from 2022 Birmingham CWG; cites Covid concerns, discriminatory quarantine rules
The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams, who performed brilliantly at the Tokyo Olympics, will not take part in the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham, the national federation said on Tuesday.
Hockey India (HI) cited CWG's proximity to the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou—the winner will directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics--Covid-19 concerns and Britain’s “discriminatory” quarantine rules as reasons for the withdrawal. Significantly, the decision comes a day after England pulled out of the Junior Men’s World Cup, scheduled in Bhubaneswar from November 24-December 5, citing the 10-day quarantine rule imposed by India in response to Britain’s similar decree even for vaccinated Indians travelling to the UK.
“With reference to the pandemic, we have observed over the last 18 months that England has been the worst affected country in Europe,” HI President Gyanandro Ningombam said in a letter to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra, who also heads the world hockey body, FIH.
“Keeping the priority of the Asian Games in mind, Hockey India cannot take a risk for any members of the Indian teams contracting Covid-19 during the Commonwealth Games. Therefore, Hockey India will not be sending its men and women teams to Commonwealth Games 2022 and informing you in advance to notify the organisers to identify reserve teams.”
There is only a month’s gap between the CWG (July 28-August 8) and Asian Games (September 10-25). Peaking in China will be the priority for the Indian teams as they bid to seal their qualification for Paris. Batra had recently said that HI had indicated it is keener on players peaking at the Asiad.
The decision was also taken due to UK's 10-day mandatory quarantine period for visiting Indian citizens as the Indian vaccine certificate is not recognised by Britain.
Since hockey was introduced at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur CWG, the Indian men have had only two podium finishes—silver at New Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, losing both finals to Australia. The women won gold in Manchester 2002 and silver in Melbourne 2006.
At the 2018 Gold Coast Games, both the teams lost the bronze medal playoff to England.