The local hockey fraternity is reeling from the shocking news that the Indoor Hockey World Cup that was scheduled to kick off less than a month from now in Liège, Belgium, has been called off.
The international hockey federation with Hockey Belgium announced late yesterday that the current health situation in Belgium, and more specifically the enormous uncertainty that currently exists regarding the evolution of the Omicron variant, does not give enough guarantee to organise this event in a safe and feasible way.
“After extensive consultation with all officials and competent (health) authorities in Belgium, it simply isn’t possible to allow 24 teams from all over the world to come to Liege for this event,” reads the statement.
Women’s national team captain Magreth Mengo told New Era Sport they are devastated to learn about the news after all the hard work.
“We were very eager to go out there and put up a great performance. At the moment we are still processing the whole thing,” she said.
Women’s head coach Erwin Handura said it is bad news indeed, and he feels pity for the players who have been putting in a lot of work.
“All their hard work will be for nothing. They have been preparing for this competition since 2019 and only a month away from the tournament, that’s when the decision to call the tournament off has been taken,” he said.
Men’s indoor hockey team coach Trevor Cormack shared similar sentiments, saying it is unfortunate, especially since many players were looking forward to making names for themselves at the tournament.
He, however, said the decision is understandable with the current Covid-19 situation the world is dealing with.
“I think, on the other hand, it’s the world that we are living in and they are doing it to protect the health of everyone involved. But it is a very difficult pill to swallow at the moment, as most of the top outdoor players were also withdrawn from the Afcon to represent the teams at the World Cup,” he said.
Although he too feels bad for the players, Namibia Hockey Union (NHU) president Reagon Graig said it was done in their best interest.
“On my end, I was seeking confirmation from the government of Belgium before sending players there, because you could send them there and then the next thing they catch Covid-19. So, we were also looking at how safe it was to send players to the tournament,” he noted.
“Although it’s something which is not easy to digest, I urge them to stay positive. Another chance will prevail.”
The 2022 Indoor Hockey World Cup would have been the sixth edition of this tournament and scheduled to be played from 2 to 6 February 2022. It was originally scheduled for February 2021, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data from the Johns Hopkins University accessed yesterday showed that in Liege, there have been 237 821 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Currently, about 17 000 people are sick; that is one in every 64 inhabitants. The current situation is 1 015.8 new cases per week per 100 000 inhabitants.