FIH Junior Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar to be held without spectators
The men's FIH Hockey Junior World Cup beginning on November 24 will be held behind closed doors as the organisers feel it will be difficult to enforce Covid-19 protocols if spectators turn up in large numbers.
The junior showpiece event will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar from November 24 to December 5. Hosts India are the defending champions.
"With the sheer popularity of the sport in this region and expected crowds in the stadium, the organisers believe it would not be possible control that number of people and yet follow all the necessary covid guidelines and protocols laid out...," Hockey India said in a release.
"Social distancing is a priority due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation and safety of fans and athletes needs to be prioritised...It's imperative to hold the tournament in an environment where health and safety of the participating teams is of paramount importance."
The Kalinga Stadium will only be open to accredited personnel and the participants of the tournament.
Sixteen teams -- hosts India, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Netherlands and the United States -- will compete in the tournament.
After five days of pool stage matches, the classification games will be held from November 30 with the quarterfinals to be played on December 1, semifinals on December 3 and the final on December 5.
The foreign teams have been exempted from quarantine and will only be required to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms during their stay. They will have to follow necessary health safety COVID-19 protocols.
Some of the mandatory protocols which the visiting teams need to follow are pre-arrival RT-PCR COVID-19 tests for all participants, conducted within 72 hours of departure, and mandatory on arrival test at the airport for teams coming from Europe and Middle East.
(With PTI inputs)