Junior World Cup's biggest headache - Fog

The city has been seeing heavy fog for the last few days. It has messed up travel plans, forced rescheduling of flights and reduced active working hours possible to a few hours through the day.

Zero visibility! Authorities are worried if the dense fog in Lucknow would hamper the Junior Hockey World Cup.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

For arguably the largest sporting event ever to be hosted in this city, Lucknow is going all out to make the Men's Junior World Cup a success. But there are concerns beyond control that have both the FIH and Hockey India working out desperate alternatives.

The new turf at the Mohd. Shahid Stadium looks pretty, replacing the erstwhile grass field that hosted impromptu football games till a few months ago and serving as the practice venue, and a new building housing the changing rooms has come up. The Major Dhyanchand Stadium at the Guru Gobind Singh Sports College is the one hosting the matches. Even the roads leading up to and inside the stadia have been freshly re-laid and painted. It may all end up being engulfed in a dense fog, making play impossible.

The city has been seeing heavy fog for the last few days. It has messed up travel plans, forced rescheduling of flights and reduced active working hours possible to a few hours through the day. It cleared up briefly but was back on field in the evening and the International Hockey Federation admitted it was weighing its options. “The FIH and HI are talking and looking at what can be done if it happens. It is a very real scenario. Maybe the late games might be delayed or rescheduled if there is sudden onset of fog, the timings may be moved a bit – we are looking at all possible scenarios,” FIH media representative Richard Stainthorpe admitted.

The latest matches are scheduled for 8.00 pm and fog is a very real possibility then. Defending champion Germany, with coach Valentin Altenburg in charge, is hoping to avoid it. “If it stays like this, it's ok. If it gets any thicker then we have a problem. Not only for the players, but also for the umpires, the TV umpire and also for those who will be watching it. So if we reach a point where it could get dangerous, then we need to look at alternatives. I am sure the officials are looking into it but it is a concern,” Altenburg said.

His Australian counterpart Ben Bishop agreed. “FIH needs to make a decision on what's best for the players. Right now also the weather is close to being not ok. But we want to play the tournament so I am sure they will work something out,” Bishop said after his team's practice match against Egypt. Similar was the reaction from the players across teams, who wondered if it was more dangerous playing in fog or losing grip on the ball and slipping repeatedly on the dewy turf.

With just one day to go before the tournament kicks off, officials are hoping the weather opens up.