Hockey: FIH puts on hold Women's Junior World Cup due to new Covid variant
Mumbai, Nov 26 (IANS) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has put on hold next month's Junior Women's World Cup in South Africa over the spread of the new virulent variant of the Novel Coronavirus. The FIH decision came a few hours after Hockey England announced its inability to send its team to South Africa because of the travel ban imposed by the United Kingdom government and amidst indications that more countries will follow suit due to concerns over the spread of the new virus variant.
"Following the outbreak of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the South African Hockey Association and the North-West University of Potchefstroom have jointly decided that the FIH Hockey Women's Junior World Cup South Africa 2021, initially planned in Potchefstroom from 5 to 16 December, will not happen under these circumstances," the FIH said in a statement on its official website.
"The safety of everyone involved in the FIH events is an absolute priority. Additionally, many countries, including from some of the participating teams, have now strongly increased their travel restrictions with South Africa, including halting flights. Therefore, it simply isn't possible to maintain this event as planned. This is hugely disappointing," FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.
"An FIH Junior World Cup is so important for the development of young players. Also, it was the first time that an FIH World Cup was due to take place on African soil. On behalf of FIH, I'd like to thank all teams for their understanding as well as the local organisers for their great work and collaboration," Weil added.
FIH will keep monitoring the situation and take a decision about the potential staging of the 2021 FIH Hockey Women's Junior World Cup as soon as it will be possible to do so, the report said.
Earlier, England withdrew from the event saying it was not possible to travel to South Africa because of a travel ban by the United Kingdom government.
The England squad was due to travel this coming Sunday to Potchefstroom but had to withdraw after the United Kingdom government put South Africa in the travel red list, which carries with it significant government guidelines and restrictions on travel, along with a period of quarantine on arrival back in the UK, England Hockey said on Friday.
England were placed in Pool B along with Belgium, Canada, and Uruguay in the 16team tournament.
Earlier, England had pulled out of the ongoing Junior Men's World Cup at Bhubaneswar, citing the spread of Covid-19 in India.