New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Sunday questioned Hockey India over its decision to pull out from the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham and said that federations should consult the central government before withdrawing from big global events. Speaking to reporters, Thakur said that a team represents the country and its 130 crore people at a global event as he stressed that federations should refrain from passing these kinds of statements.

"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 going on and then there is World Cup. If they can 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 also," Thakur was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Both the men's and women's hockey teams had pulled out from the Commonwealth Games 2022, which will be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8 next year, saying they want to focus on the Asian Games 2022. The Asian Games will take place in China's Hangzhou from September 10 to September 22 next year.

Speaking about the team's decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, Hockey India president Gyanendro Ningombam had said that the "Asian Games 2022 is certainly a very important tournament for us since it's a continental qualification event for Paris Olympics 2024".

"The Indian men's and women's teams have to play at their optimum level and therefore it was important for us to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games 2022, which is being held just before the Asian Games 2022. After a scintillating performance by both the Indian teams at the Tokyo Games, we are focusing on producing even better results at the Paris Olympic stage," he said, as reported by ANI.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma