Hockey India on Tuesday decided not to send its men and women teams for the Commonwealth Games set to go ahead in Birmingham next year.
The decision has been taken citing the 10-day mandatory quarantine period for Indian citizens in the UK as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter accessed by ANI, Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam President clarified that why such a stance has been taken.
"With reference to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, we have observed over the last 18 months that England has been the worst effected country In Europe. As you are aware that the Commonwealth Games are scheduled in Birmingham, England from 28 July to 08 August 2022 and the Asian Games are scheduled in Hangihoti, China from 10 to 25 September 2022 There is only a 32-day window between the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games before the start of the Asian Games."
"You will also appreciate 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 for any members Of the Indian Teams contracting COVID-19 during the above the Commonwealth Games," said Hockey India President in his letter addressed to IOA President Narinder Batra.
"Therefore, Hockey India will not be sending its men and women teams to Commonwealth Games 2022 and are informing you in advance to kindly notify the Organisers to identify reserve teams for the Commonwealth Games," he added.
Further in his letter, HI President said: "It is pertinent to mention that due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, England have issued guidelines that 10 days quarantine is required Indians arrivals in England even for those who are fully vaccinated since unfortunately the Indian vaccinations are not yet recognised by the English government. Such discriminatory restrictions were not imposed on Indian athletes and officials during the recent Tokyo Olympic Games and this 10 days quarantine requirement for vaccinated sports persons will affect their performances. We feel these restrictions are biased against India and term it as very unfortunate."
It is important to note that Hockey India's decision comes just a day after England withdrew from this year's Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar citing the 10-day quarantine rule imposed by India.
On October 1, India had decided to impose reciprocity on British nationals under which UK nationals arriving in the country from Britain will have to undergo mandatory quarantine at home or in the destination address for 10 days after their arrival, sources said.
The step came days after the United Kingdom announced new travel rules which state that Indian travellers, even those who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine, will be considered unvaccinated.Sources said that reciprocity will come into force from October 4, the same day UK's new travel rules come into effect.