With Olympic qualifier in focus, Indian hockey teams to skip 2022 Commonwealth Games

Hockey India has prioritised the 2022 Asian Games, an Olympic qualifying event, over the CWG next year. The two events will be played a month apart.

By Naveen Peter
Picture by Hockey India

The Indian men’s and women’s field hockey teams will not be part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Hockey India (HI) confirmed on Tuesday.

In a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, the HI chief Gyanendro Nigombam stated that the federation was not keen on sending a team for the quadrennial event as it wished to prioritise the 2022 Asian Games, the continental qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

“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 take a risk of any members of the Indian teams contracting COVID-19 during the above Commonwealth Games,” the letter stated.

Moreover, the Hockey India president added that a packed calendar next year would have put the teams in a tight spot if they were to compete in both the events given the ever-changing COVID-19 situation across the globe.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games is scheduled to begin on July 28 with the closing ceremony on August 8 while the Asian Games will be held from September 10-25.

“There is only a 32-day window between the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games before the start of the Asian Games. 

“It is pertinent to mention that due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, England has issued guidelines that 10 days quarantine is required for Indian arrivals in England even for those who are fully vaccinated since unfortunately the Indian vaccinations are not yet recognised by the English government,” the letter added.

Incidentally, England also pulled out of the FIH men's Hockey Junior World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar, India, from next month over COVID-19 related concerns.

India won the bronze medal in men’s hockey at the 2018 Asian Games - the last edition held in Jakarta - while the women clinched silver.