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India’s hockey teams will compete at Birmingham 2022 after reversing a decision to miss the event, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Dame Louise Martin has confirmed.
India had withdrawn its men’s and women’s teams from the event in October, citing COVID-19 related concerns and "discriminatory and biased" quarantine rules.
Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam also cited the close proximity of the end of the Commonwealth Games and the start of the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
But now, following weeks of negotiations, Dame Louise told insidethegames that they have a guarantee from India the hockey teams will play in the tournament - "if they are invited and qualify".
The positive outcome followed talks between Dame Louise and Narinder Batra, the President of the Indian Olympic Association, who is also head of the International Hockey Federation.
India’s Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who had criticised the decision to make the announcement without any consultation, was also involved in the discussions to ensure that his country's teams, ranked among the best in the world, would take part at Birmingham 2022.
"India’s hockey men and women will, if they are invited and qualify, will be here," Dame Louise told insidethegames following the conclusion of the four-day CGF Coordination Commission visit to inspect Birmingham 2022 preparations.
"I am delighted."
India’s men won the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 - their first Olympic hockey medal since they claimed the gold at Moscow 1980.
The women, meanwhile, narrowly missed winning their first Olympic medal when they were beaten 4-3 by Great Britain in the bronze-medal playoff.
A list of qualified nations for the hockey tournament at Birmingham 2022 is due to be announced in February for an event set to feature five men and five women’s teams.
"Hockey is a world-class event at the Commonwealth Games, and it will be a good competition," said Dame Louise.
Persuading India to change its mind is a major coup for Dame Louise, who has long battled to ensure the country plays a bigger role in the Commonwealth Sport Movement.
Relations between the CGF and India have been strained since it was announced that shooting had not been included on the programme for Birmingham 2022.
It led to India threatening to boycott the whole Games, which are scheduled to open on July 28 and end on August 8.
"India is the biggest country in the Commonwealth," Dame Louise said.
"We need all their teams in every sport that they qualify for at these Games."