Drama over, India to participate in Azlan Shah hockey
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India will finally take part in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah tournament after a peeved Hockey India initially threatened to withdraw from the event over government's refusal's to fund travel expenses but reversed its decision following a quick resolution of the issue.
In what appeared to be a pressure tactic, Hockey India surprisingly announced withdrawal from the tournament through an official press release, citing Sports Authority of India's refusal to bear the team's air travel expenses.
However, after the news broke out, the Sports Ministry said that it has directed SAI to allocate the required funds to meet the air ticket expenses of the team considering the prestige attached to the tournament.
The Sports Ministry's directive to SAI paved the way for India's participation, ending the withdrawal drama over ticket expenditure which would have cost approximately 6 to 7 lakhs for a 22-member squad.
Soon after Hockey India decided to pull out of the event to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia, from March 9-17, Sports Secretary P K Deb stepped in to resolve the issue.
When contacted, Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra said that the team will now take part in the event.
"The Indian team will take part in the event. It will leave on March 3. We will deal directly with the Sports Ministry and resolve all the issues", Batra said.
"The Sports Ministry has asked SAI to release the funds. We stepped in because Azlan Shah is a very important tournament and we don't want to deprive our players a chance to participate in such a prestigious tournament," Sports Secretary P K Deb told PTI.
"India have always figured in the previous editions of the tournament and the Sports Ministry made the exception this time keeping in mind the players' interest," he added.
Deb, however, asked Hockey India to exercise fiscal restrain in future.