Chandigarh, Sep 12 (UNI) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has decided to move the prestigious Men's Champions Trophy, scheduled to take place in Lahore from December 1 to 9, from Pakistan due to security fears, according to information received here tonight.
''It was an extremely hard decision and one that we took with many regrets for the Pakistan Hockey Community,'' FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman stated in a release.
''During the last few months we tried everything we could to keep the Samsung Champions Trophy in Pakistan. This was unfortunately impossible due to circumstances not related to hockey or sport and completely beyond the control of the FIH and the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF),'' he added.
Olympic champions Australia, Spain and Asian champions South Korea have already pulled out their name from the tournament due to the ongoing security crisis in Pakistan.
To add to the woes of the organisers, Germany and Netherlands have not confirmed their participation to the FIH.
Later, the FIH Athletes Commission was advised by a number of athletes that they would not play in the tournament.
Reserve countries England and Japan also declined the FIH's invitation. With six of the best eight hockey teams not participating in the December-slated Champions Trophy, which is one of the most important hockey tournaments in the world, the FIH had no option but to move the event out of Pakistan.
The decision was based on concerns about safety and security of the participating teams and the negative travel advice received from the foreign affairs departments of many of the prospective participants.
The new venue for the Champions Trophy is yet to be decided but the FIH had already invited bids from Malaysia and India for hosting the event.
It is also learnt that if the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) wins the bid, it will host the event in Chandigarh.
However, the new dates for the tournament are yet to be finalised, but in principle, the FIH will aim to keep the same dates for the event.