Days after Hockey India announced its decision to withdraw its men’s and women’s teams from the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has slammed the sports body, saying it cannot take such unilateral decisions without consulting the government.
“I think any federation should refrain from giving such statements and discuss with the government first because it’s just not federation’s team, it’s national team,” he told reporters on Sunday (October 10).
“In a country of 30 crore population, there are not just 18 players to represent the country. It is a global event I feel that they (Hockey India) should engage with government and concerned departments. The decision will be taken by the government,” he said.
Hockey India on Tuesday withdrew from the Commonwealth Games, citing discriminatory COVID-19 restrictions by the United Kingdom for travellers from India.
Stating that their priority is the Asian Games, the qualifying match for the 2024 Paris Olympics the same year, Hockey India president Gyanandro Ningombam said only a 32-day window is available between the two games, and that it cannot risk sending its players to the United Kingdom, one of the most COVID-affected countries in Europe.
Responding to this concern, Thakur said he sees no reason why the players cannot participate in back-to-back events.
“There is no shortage of talent in hockey in India. If you see cricket, the IPL is going on and then there is the World Cup. If cricketers can play two tournaments back-to-back, then why can’t players from other sports?” he said.
“I can understand Asian Games is being prioritised and I am not into this, I am just saying where the Indian team will be playing just doesn’t lie with the federation, it lies with the government also,” he added.