New Delhi: India on Tuesday pulled out of next year's Birmingham Commonwealth Games' (CWG) hockey competition, citing Covid-19 concerns and UK's discriminatory quarantine rules for travellers from the country.
The decision comes a day after England pulled out of the junior World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar next month, citing similar concerns and taking "note" of the Indian government's mandatory 10-day quarantine protocol for all UK nationals.
Hockey India has reasoned that there is only a 32-day window available between the Birmingham Games (July 28-August 8) and the Hangzhou Asian Games (September 10-25).
HI said it can't risk sending its players to the UK, which has been one of the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
"You will appreciate that the Asian games is the Continental qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and keeping the priority of the Asian Games in mind, Hockey India cannot risk any members of the Indian teams contracting Covid-19 during the Commonwealth Games," Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam’s letter to the Indian Olympic Association states.
"Therefore, Hockey India will not be sending its men and women teams to Commonwealth Games 2022,’’ the letter adds.
The UK recently refused to recognise India's Covid-19 vaccination certificates and imposed a 10-day hard quarantine on travellers from the country even if they were fully vaccinated. The discrimination was mentioned in Ningombam's letter to the IOA President.
"Such discriminatory restrictions were not imposed on Indian athletes and officials during the recent Tokyo Olympic Games and this 10-day quarantine requirement for vaccinated sports persons will affect their performance," Ningombam stated.
"We feel these restrictions are biased against India and term it as very unfortunate," he said.
India imposed reciprocal curbs on all British nationals arriving in the country after UK's steadfast refusal to reconsider its restrictions.
The Birmingham CWG would have been first big event for both the teams after their inspirational performances at the Tokyo Games, where the men's team won a bronze while the women finished a creditable fourth.