New Delhi, Sep 3: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has no plans to conduct the Olympic qualifying matches between India and Pakistan in Europe if the arch-rivals draw each other in the battle for a 2020 Tokyo Games berth.
A Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) official last week claimed that the FIH was mulling the idea of conducting the potential Olympic qualifying clashes between India and Pakistan in Europe due to recent political tensions between the two nations.
India's opponent for the two-leg Olympic qualifier would be confirmed on September 9 after a live draw at the FIH headquarters in Laussane with a likely clash at home against Pakistan on the cards. But the world body made it clear that there are no plans to have the matches in Europe if India and Pakistan draw each other and as already announced, the top-eight ranked teams will host the matches.
"There is no truth in this (claim by PHF official). This is wrong," the FIH told PTI in email communication. India and Pakistan have been seeded in two separate halves of the draw by FIH and there is a possibility that they could meet in the Olympics qualifying tournament.
The draw would see 14 teams drawn into seven pairs with the winners on aggregate going to Tokyo in 2020. The FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will each feature two nations playing two back-to-back matches, with nations drawn to play each other based on their rankings at the end of the last 2018/2019 Continental Championship, namely the Oceania Cup (8 September).
The matches will be hosted by the higher-ranked of the two competing nations. As per current rankings and eight spots confirmed by the FIH, India will host both the Olympic qualifiers of its men's and women's teams in late October or early November. Pakistan, currently ranked 17th in the world, had missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.