Indian Olympic Association and International Hockey Federation President Narinder Batra has said India's hockey teams are likely to prioritise the Asian Games over the Commonwealth Games next year ©Getty Images

Narinder Batra, President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as well as the International Hockey Federation (FIH), has suggested that India's men’s and women’s hockey teams could miss next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Batra told the Press Trust of India that he expects the Indian national teams to prioritise the Asian Games competition in Hanzghou in China, due to be held in September 2022.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for July 28 to August 8.

"Based on my preliminary discussions with Hockey India, it seems doubtful as of now whether Indian men and women hockey team's will participate in Commonwealth Games 2022," said Batra.

"Hockey India will not like its hockey athletes to peak 35 days before the Asian Games 2022 and would like the athletes to peak at the right time, i.e. during the Asian Games 2022.

"The Commonwealth Games in 2022 are just 35 days before the Asian Games in China and in hockey the winners of Asian Games directly qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics.

"Hence, winning gold medal in the Asian Games is a must for both men’s and women's hockey teams."

Both Indian teams appear certain to qualify for Birmingham 2022 comfortably through their FIH world rankings.

India's men's and women's teams both finished fourth at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images
India's men's and women's teams both finished fourth at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

India's men and women have featured in medal matches in four of the six Commonwealth Games since hockey was introduced at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

The women’s team secured gold at the expense of hosts England at Manchester 2002 and a silver at Melbourne 2006, while the men finished second at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.

Both finished fourth at Gold Coast 2018.

At the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympics, India's men won the bronze medal.

In an interview with the Indian Express in 2019, Batra claimed the Commonwealth Games "have no standard," and questioned: "It’s not a ranking tournament either.

"So why waste time?"

His comments two years ago came after shooting, India’s most successful sport at the Games’ last edition with seven golds, was dropped from the programme for Birmingham 2022 for the first time since Edinburgh 1970.

A standalone Commonwealth Shooting and Archery Championships in India was later set up in India, but cancelled because of COVID-19.

India sent 216 athletes to Gold Coast 2018, and finished third in the medals table, but Batra added that the probability of the hockey teams not featuring and archery and shooting being dropped meant that would likely be significantly reduced in Birmingham.

Next year’s event is set to be the third time the Commonwealth Games have been held in Britain this century, following Manchester 2002 and Glasgow 2014.