AFP with additional input from News Desk
Hockey’s governing body indicated Thursday that Pakistan will take part in the men’s World Cup this year in India despite acute tensions between the two countries.
Pakistan have qualified for the World Cup to be held in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar between November 18 and December 16. But fears have been raised that Pakistan could skip the 16-team event as sporting ties between the neighbours are frozen.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) told AFP however that no participating nation has indicated problems that could lead to a withdrawal, or India refusing to let any nation attend.
“We are looking forward to welcoming all 16 qualified teams. We have not received concerns from any of the participating teams nor the host about this matter,” an FIH official told AFP in an email statement.
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“FIH strongly believes that hockey is an inclusive sport, aimed at celebrating diversity and promoting friendship and respect.”
India’s blind cricket team did not go to Pakistan in January for the 50-over World Cup, forcing their matches to be switched to United Arab Emirates.
India and Pakistan’s senior cricket teams have not played a bilateral series since 2013 because of the tense political climate. India accuses its neighbour of supporting militant activities, particularly in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan’s kabaddi, squash and wrestling teams also did not travel to India for marquee tournaments last year.
Pakistan, who did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup, are the most successful team in the sport’s showpiece event with title wins in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. Despite not playing in India and not winning a World Cup for many years, Pakistan will hope to relive the glory days of the 1970s by attempting to win a record breaking fifth trophy.
© Agence France-Presse