Sports Minister Anurag Thakur lashed out at Hockey India for unilaterally pulling out of the next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Thakur said the government has every right to take a call on the national team’s participation in international events and Hockey India must have consulted the government before taking a call. Recently, Hockey India pulled out of the 2022 Commonwealth games citing COVID-19 concerns and UK’s discriminatory quarantine rules for the Indian team.
“I think any federation should refrain from giving such statements and discuss with the government first because it’s just not federation’s team, its national team,” he told reporters.
“In a country of 130 crore population, there are not just 18 players to represent the country. It (CWG) is a global event I feel that they (Hockey India) should engage with the government and concerned department. The decision will be taken by the government.”
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games will be followed by the Asian Games in Hangzhou, which will also be a direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Earlier, Hockey India had said their participation in the Commonwealth games is uncertain due to its proximity to the Asian games. The two events are separated by 32 days. However, Thakur said there is no shortage of Hockey talent in the country and playing back to back tournaments should not be too difficult.
“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.
“I can understand Asian Games is being prioritised and I am not going 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,” Thakur said.