The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has withdrawn a men’s Olympic qualifier from Pakistan because of concerns around interference in the operations of the country’s hockey federation.
The FIH took the decision due to non co-operation and undue interference in the operations of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), which has recently been suspended by the Pakistan Sports Board.
The suspension of the PHF was announced on the final day in office of Pakistan’s outgoing Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Lahore in Pakistan, plus Spain and China, were scheduled to host men’s and women’s Olympic hockey qualification tournaments from January 13 to 21 2024.
The qualification event in Lahore was due to be the first time an FIH men’s tournament had taken place in the country since the 2004 Champions Trophy, also held in Lahore.
Last month insidethegames exclusively reported on calls for the qualifier to be moved away from Pakistan for safety reasons.
This was after disturbances broke out across the country following reports that two men tore pages from the Quran, the main religious text of Islam.
In response the FIH said that security was a “paramount principle” of all its competitions and that it had “received guarantees from the PHF that all necessary measures” would be taken to ensure the safety of all participants.
A new host for the men’s Olympic qualifier has yet to be announced.
In a statement to insidethegames the FIH said: “FIH can confirm that it has informed the Pakistan Hockey Federation of its decision to withdraw the hosting of the Men’s FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier tournament – scheduled in January 2024 – from Pakistan. This is primarily due to the recent developments in the governance situation of the Federation.
“However, supporting and reviving hockey in the country – considered as one of the historic powerhouses of our sport – remains a high priority on the FIH agenda that will be welcomed by the global hockey community.
“Therefore, we will continue to work closely with the Pakistan Hockey Federation in the future.
“A new host for this tournament will be announced shortly. The other qualifiers will be staged in China and Spain as announced in July.”