COVID UPDATE: Spectators barred from hockey Pro League games in Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar : Hockey India (HI) and the international hockey federation (FIH) have decided not to allow spectators for the upcoming double-header weekend Pro League 2021/2022 matches at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium here due to logistical issues.The Indian men’s and women’s teams will play against Spain on February 26 and 27, which will be followed by matches against Germany on March 12 and 13. The men’s team will then take on Argentina in a double-header on March 19 and 20. The men’s and women’s teams will also play England on April 2 and 3.A statement issued by Hockey India said on Friday that the popularity of the sport in Bhubaneswar (Orissa) and the expected crowds in the stadium had forced them to reconsider their plan to allow spectators for the matches.”With the sheer popularity of the sport in this region and expected crowds in the stadium, the organisers believe it would not be possible (to) control that number of people and yet follow the COVID guidelines and protocols laid out by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, FIH and Hockey India. Social distancing is a priority due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation and the safety of the fans and athletes needs to be prioritised,” said the HI statement.
“The upcoming home games of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/2022 in Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar will be a telecast-only affair as Hockey India and FIH have decided to hold the double-header weekend matches starting from February 26 under closed-doors for the time being,” the statement added.HI added that the stadium will allow only accredited operational staff, participants of the tournament and sponsors, among others.”For the organisers, it is imperative to hold the tournament in an environment where health and safety of the participating teams, including and support staff is of paramount importance. While the stadium will only be open to accredited operational staff, participants of the tournament, sponsors, staff of participating organisations, delegate and guests invited by Hockey India and FIH, the matches will be broadcast live across platforms around the world and fans can tune in and cheer for their favourite teams and players,” HI said.It said that the situation will be reviewed at the end of February for matches scheduled in March.