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Not Hockey India’s decision alone over where we play: Anurag Thakur after India’s withdrawal from CWG

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said that this is not the federation's decision alone to make and that the government should have been consulted for the same.

Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur on Sunday criticised Hockey India’s decision to pull out of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England next year, saying that this is not the federation’s decision alone to make and that the government should have been consulted for the same.

“I think any federation should refrain from passing these kinds of statements. They should discuss it with the government first. It is not the federation’s team that is going. It is the country’s team that goes for an event. In a country of 130 crores, there just are not 18 players who can represent the country. I believe Hockey India should consult with the government and the Sports department,” Thakur told reporters in New Delhi on Sunday.

“I have clarified that in such a big country, there just are not 18 players who can represent the country. There is no shortage of talent in hockey in our country. If you see cricket, IPL is goinig on and then there is Wworld Cup. If they can’t play, then why cannot the same be done in other sports? I understand Asian Games is being prioritised, I am not going in this issue, I am just saying where India will be playing just does not lie with the federation, it lies with the government as well,” he added.

Politics over vaccination entered the hockey turf when a day after England pulled out of the Junior World Cup, to be held in Bhubaneswar in November, India confirmed the withdrawal of its men’s and women’s teams from next year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Both had cited the mandatory 10-day quarantine imposed on travellers from the other country by their governments as one of the key reasons for the decision.

In a letter to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra on Tuesday, Hockey India chief Gyanendro Ningombam cited the ‘discriminatory restrictions’ that are ‘biased against India’ as an additional reason to pull out of the CWG. Curiously, the announcement came barely a couple of hours after the government said in a media release that the men’s team was ‘likely to participate’ in the tournament.

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