File image of the Australian men's hockey team (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI: As reported by TimesofIndia.com first, Hockey Australia (HA) has decided to pull out of the upcoming FIH tournaments, including the men's and women's Junior World Cups and the FIH Pro League "as a result of Covid-related government travel restrictions and uncertainty."
The Junior World Cups are scheduled to be held in India (men) and South Africa (women) in November-December this year. The venue of the men's edition is yet to be confirmed but likely to be Odisha. The women's tournament will be held in Potchefstroom.
Australia's decision to remain absent from the FIH tournaments is based upon the mandatory quarantine requirement for anybody visiting or returning to Australia.
Announcing its pull-out decision formally on Friday, Hockey Australia confirmed that its Tasman neighbours New Zealand also won't be available for the third season of the Pro League scheduled to begin in October.
The Black Sticks are also expected to pull out from the Junior World Cups.
“Based on risk assessment and current Australian government health advice, Hockey Australia is not considering overseas hockey-related trips at this time,” said HA Acting CEO, Michael Johnston, in a press release.
“The decision on our (Australia and New Zealand) absence from the FIH Pro League was a collective one agreed on by all nations based primarily on other countries’ difficulty or inability to travel into Australia and New Zealand.
“In Australia, it is apparent the easing of international travel restrictions is still a way off and none of the competing countries wanted to enter the next Pro League season without a level of assuredness," Jonston added.
Apart from the Junior World Cups and the Pro League, Hockey Australia has also decided to stay away from the Indoor Hockey World Cup to be held in February next year in Belgium and the Masters Indoor World Cup in the USA at the same time.
“Hockey Australia’s top priority is the safety and wellbeing of its athletes and staff and this decision reflects that,” said HA's High Performance Pathways Manager, Ian Rutledge.
It remains to be seen which the next best-placed team is from Oceania to take Australia's place in the men's and women's Junior World Cups.