The shadow of Omicron pandemic continues to loom large over competitive sports. Though most of the International Sports Federations are going ahead with their scheduled events yet some nations are opting out citing the safety concerns of their athletes.
Though most of the international sporting events, including the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, have been conducted without spectators, yet there have been instances, including Argentina, where there has been overwhelming response of spectators to the FIH Pro League games.
These developments aside, many events have either been truncated or postponed because of the Omicron pandemic. The Netherlands women’s hockey team also decided against travelling to India for its FIH Pro League games this month.
Other than last minute withdrawal of Japan from the Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup, Australia and New Zealand, for example, withdrew from all International Hockey Federation events, including the FIH Pro League. They were followed by Canada that even after accepting invitation to play in the third edition of the elite league stepped back citing Omicron pandemic as the reason.
France and South Africa are playing in the FIH Pro League as replacement teams.
Now Japan has decided to withdraw its team from the Junior Women’s World Cup Hockey Tournament to be held in Potchefstroom in South Africa from April 1. Its place will be taken by Malaysia.
For Malaysia, it will be its debut in this elite tournament that started in 1989 in Ottawa. Malaysia is currently ranked fifth in Asia. Incidentally, Malaysian Hockey Federation has a tough task on hand as it must select and train its team in next six weeks.
Other teams that are now entered in the Junior Women’s World Cup are the Netherlands, England, Argentina, Germany, India, Korea, Ireland, Canada, USA, S. Africa, Russia, Wales, Uruguay, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.