In a big relief for India, the Hockey Series Finals, the country’s only route to next year’s Olympics, will be held as scheduled in Bhubaneswar in June, despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ban on hosting global events.
In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in February, India refused to issue visas to a three-member shooting contingent from Pakistan for the World Cup in New Delhi, leading to the IOC asking all the international federations not to award global events to the country.
But a top Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official Tuesday said that the Hockey Series Finals, from June 6-16, will go ahead as scheduled.
“We (IOA and IOC) have reached an understanding on this issue and I can say it is almost confirmed that Hockey Series Finals will be held in June in Bhubaneswar,” the official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
India had pulled out of the Hockey Pro League and it will have to compete in the Hockey Series Finals to qualify for the Olympics.
The world over, there will be three Hockey Series Finals of eight teams each.
The top two placed teams in each of Hockey Series Finals will qualify for the Olympic qualification events to be held in October and November.
The President of International Hockey Federation (FIH), Narinder Batra, is also the chief of the IOA.
After the shooting World Cup fiasco, the IOC had said its stand against the country will remain until “written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic charter“.
Asked about any communication with the government, the official said, “It is not possible to approach the government now. The country is in the election mode. We will approach the government only after the general elections.”
After the IOC’s diktat, the junior Asian Championships, to be held in July, was shifted out of India by the United World Wrestling, the global governing body of the sport.