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India hits back at UK by withdrawing hockey teams from Commonwealth Games citing Covid factor

Indian Hockey Teams Pulled Out of 2022 CWG

India has withdrawn both its men and women’s hockey teams from next year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham citing concerns over the surging COVID-19 cases in the UK and the limited time gap before the Asian Games in China which are considered more important as they will decide the qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The decision sends a clear message to Britain as it came a day after England, mentioned "a number of COVID-related concerns", to withdraw from the men's hockey Junior World Cup, which will be held in Bhubaneswar from Nov. 24-Dec. 5.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for July 28 to Aug. 8 while the  Asian Games in Hangzhou starting on Sept. 10.

The move also comes in the backdrop of Britain refusing to lift its 10-day quarantine detention for fully vaccinated Indians unlike people from western countries.  After making lame excuses such as lack of clarity over Indian  vaccine certificates, the UK finally said that the high number of coronavirus cases in India was the reason for the more stringent rule.

Also read:  All UK citizens arriving in India to go through 10-day quarantine in tit for tat move

India now appears to have reciprocated the same sentiment in withdrawing its hockey teams. 

"With reference to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have observed over the last 18 months that England has been the worst affected country in Europe," Hockey India chief Gyanendro Ningombam has written in a letter to Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra.

"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," the letter states.

Ningombam said the quarantine measures for Indians arriving in Britain, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, were "very unfortunate" and would affect athletes' performance.

Batra, who is also the chief of the global hockey governing body (FIH), said the decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games was "final".