Coronavirus outbreak forces Indian women’s hockey team to cancel China tour

The Indian women’s team was scheduled to travel to China from March 14 to 25 but the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus has put an end to the tour.

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Rani Rampal celebrates with her team-mates after her crucial goal that sealed India's place at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus has forced the Indian women’s hockey team to cancel its tour of China, leaving the federation with the difficult task of finding an opponent as part of its Olympics preparation.

The Indian women’s team was scheduled to travel to China from March 14 to 25. However, due to the fast-spreading disease, that has killed over 636 people and infected at least 31,161, it has been cancelled.

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“We had to travel to China but that has been cancelled due to the virus. So a lot of teams are also not available to play with because they are participating in the Pro hockey league. Hockey India and our coaches are working out whom to play,” said Indian skipper Rani Rampal.

All the top teams including Argentina, Belgium, Australia, Germany, China, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States are competing in the FIH Pro Hockey League.

Uncertainty

After the New Zealand tour that ended on Wednesday, the Indian team is scheduled to go through a four-week training and conditioning camp from February 16 to March 14.

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With uncertainty looming over the schedule, the women’s team will be left with three weeks of free time before it heads to another training and preparatory camp on April 6.

Last year, the Indian women’s team booked an Olympic berth by defeating USA at the Bhubaneswar leg of the 2019 FIH Olympic Qualifiers. It will be the team's second successive Olympics and third ever.

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