Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur has criticized Hockey India for deciding to pull out of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games without consulting the government. Thakur said the hockey federation should have consulted with the government before taking a decision on the same.
Anurag Thakur's statement came after Hockey India pulled out of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games citing quarantine rules and preparations for the Asian Games. A gold medal at the Asian Games will ensure India get a direct entry into the 2024 Paris Olympics, without having the need to play the Olympic qualifiers.
There is only a 32-day window between the Commonwealth Games, which ends on August 8, and the Asian Games that starts on September 10 next year.
Speaking to journalists, Anurag Thakur said the hockey team does not belong to the federation and is a team representing the country.
"I think any federation should refrain from passing these kinds of statements," he said. "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 are not just 18 players who can represent the country. I believe Hockey India should have consulted with the government and the Sports department."
"If cricketers can play two tournaments back-to-back, then why can’t players from other sports?" - Anurag Thakur
The Sports Minister pointed out that the Indian cricket team plays tournaments in succession and a packed calendar is nothing new for professional sportspeople.
"There is no shortage of talent in hockey in India," said Thakur. "In 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 why the Asian Games is being prioritized and I am not going into this, I am just saying where the Indian team will be playing just doesn’t lie with the federation, it lies with the government also.”