New Delhi: In what could be termed as a dampener after the ecstasy of Indian hockey's return to the Olympics, the Sports Ministry has allegedly denied Hockey India [HI] the permission to hold the preparatory camp for the 48 probables, which was scheduled to begin on March 5 at the SAI Centre in Bangalore, sources have told IBNLive.com.
"We have not received the approval to hold the camp," the source confirmed, pointing towards possible retaliation after HI didn't allow players selected for the camp to participate in the ongoing World Series Hockey [WSH], which is backed by the Indian Hockey Federation [IHF].
"However, the Madhya Pradesh [MP] government has made a welcome offer to hold the camp in Bhopal," the source added. "They [MP govt] are even ready to bear the cost of preparing for the Olympics," IBNLive was told by the reliable source. But it remains to be seen if the Sports Ministry, which sounded in favour of the WSH at its inauguration, allows that to happen.
"I congratulate the World Series Hockey and the Indian Hockey Federation for daring to dream and conducting such a grand hockey feast for the people of India and hockey players of the world," Sports Minister Ajay Maken said in his video message that was aired during the WSH opening ceremony in Chandigarh on February 29.
The source said that the Sports Ministry is now raising the issue of why such a large number of probables have been selected for the camp.
"It was decided last year in the development programme that the number of probables can be raised to 48. But they [Sports Ministry] are singing a different tune now, evidently because the WSH now has support of the Sports Minister but has lost its sheen since the top players are not participating," the source added.
WSH is the joint venture of IHF and Nimbus Sport, but since International Hockey Federation [FIH] recognises HI as the game's governing body in India, it has labelled the event as 'unsanctioned'.
Exactly a week ago, India re-entered the Olympics after mauling France 8-1 in the final of the qualifiers here. But while one would have imagined that a return to the Olympic Games after a gap of eight years would have rekindled hopes of a ceasefire between HI and IHF, this latest development may mar India's hopes of a top-six finish at London 2012.