Now, England opt out of Junior Hockey World Cup citing COVID worries

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  The Junior World Cup, scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar from November 24, is fast losing sheen. On Monday, England withdrew from the tournament citing Covid-19.

“England Hockey has informed the International Hockey Federation (FIH) of its decision to unfortunately withdraw from the upcoming Men’s Junior World Cup,” they said on their website.

“The event is due to take place in Bhubaneswar from November 24 to December 5, but with a number of Covid-related concerns in place, and with player and staff well-being in mind, it has become untenable for our team to participate. We note that on Friday the Indian government announced a mandatory ten-day quarantine for all UK nationals. 

“Our decision sits alongside the recent decisions made by the Australia and New Zealand hockey federations in relation to their withdrawal from the men’s/women’s junior World Cups.” 

They are three of the leading sides in the sport and while the show will go on without them, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) may have to consider the integrity of the World Cup if more sides follow the way of Australia, New Zealand and England.

For the time being, however, there are no plans to push the tournament back. As the world body is confident that all the other teams will play, there has been no need to have a discussion on those lines. 

Meanwhile, the local organising committee will decide on the exact number of Covid-related measures in place after Durga Puja.

The festival ends on October 15 and if there’s a visible uptick in new Covid-19 cases post that, the entirety of the tournament could be out of bounds for spectators.

The hope, at least for the time being, is that there could be roughly 25-35% of fans for the matches.

However, that depends on the prevailing Covid-19 cases around the third week of November. There is also a decision to be taken with respect to allowing media on site.

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