Hockey India should have consulted government before pulling out of CWG - Anurag Thakur

Playing two tournaments within a short span of time is nothing new for professional sportspersons, the Sports Minister points out.

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur at the inauguration of the Delhi Hockey Premier Weekend League in New Delhi on Sunday. - PTI

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Sunday came hard on Hockey India for unilaterally deciding to pull out of next year's Commonwealth Games, saying the national federation must consult the government before taking any such step.

"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 the concerned department. The decision will be taken by the government."

Thakur's strong statement came after Hockey India on Tuesday pulled out of next year's Birmingham Commonwealth Games, citing COVID-19 concerns and the U.K.'s discriminatory quarantine rules for travellers from India.

HI also reasoned that there is only a 32-day window available between the Birmingham Games (July 28-August 8) and the Hangzhou Asian Games (September 10-25), which is a direct qualifier for 2024 Paris Olympics.

'No shortage of talent'

Thakur said there was no dearth of hockey talent in India and that playing back-to-back tournaments was nothing new for professional sportspersons.

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"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 [prerogative to decide] where the Indian team will be playing just doesn't lie with the federation, it lies with the government also," Thakur said.

Meanwhile, Thakur said the meeting of the selection committee for this year's National Sports Awards will be held in the next 10 days.

"The selection committee will meet in the next 10 days where they will decide who all will be given awards this year and after taking time from the President of India, the awards will be conferred," he said.

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