The men’s Asian Hockey Champions Trophy has been postponed for a third time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian Hockey Champions Trophy will now be held from December 14 to 22 at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka.
The Asian Hockey Champions Trophy was originally supposed to be held in 2020 but the peak of the pandemic forced the postponement of the event to March 2021. However, the marquee tournament was then postponed to October and now a third time to December.
The COVID-19 travel restrictions and a tight hockey calendar are said to be the reasons behind the postponement of the event.
The Asian Hockey Federation has said the new dates have received approval from the International Hockey Federation.
The Asian Hockey Champions Trophy features Asia's top six teams competing in a round robin format. India and Pakistan are the most successful teams in the Asian Hockey Championship, winning the trophy thrice.
India and Pakistan are the joint defending champions of the Asian Hockey Champions Trophy, having been declared the joint-winners in the 2018 edition.
Asian Hockey Federation confident of a successful tournament
Asian Hockey Federation chief executive Tayyab Ikram said the postponement of the marquee event would not take away any enthusiasm or sheen off the tournament. In a statement, he said:
"In our mission to bring hockey back on the pitch, after the global disruption caused by the novel coronavirus, I am pleased to announce the rescheduling of the dates for the postponed Asian Champions Trophy 2021 in December this year. We are extremely excited to deliver one of the biggest hockey events in Bangladesh."
"I am convinced that the upcoming event will be a great success and will be organized with the same aspirations of excellence and diligence that we have seen so far.”
However, sources privy to the development told Sportskeeda that if the tournament does not go as per the third revised schedule, it would be better to cancel the marquee tournament this time around.
“We have a packed calendar for next year. We have the CWG, the Asian Games and a lot of other important tournaments. The Asian Champions Trophy is an important one but we cannot keep postponing the event. It is now so close to the next edition of the event too. In that case, we can cancel the current edition and concentrate on the next.”
Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia and hosts Bangladesh are set to compete for the trophy.