It seems the Sports Authority of India that owns the National Stadium, venue of the World Cup, is not ready to throw open its premises either for public or for media in the immediate future.
Citing security reasons, the stadium has now become a fortress. Today, Indian team will be playing a practice match against Bharat Petroleum at 20.00 hours under floodlights. But no one is allowed to witness.
On contacted, Pravir Krishna, Joint Secretary, now posted at the Sports Authority of India, who deals hockey affairs, said, "It is a practice match, media is not allowed".
At the first instance, he feined ignorance on querried whether journalists are allowed for the match today. When informed about the match, he acknowledged it but said curtly, "the match is part of practice and it is between the team concerned. No media is allowed".
This matter was brought to the knowledge of a Hockey India official. He expressed sympathy and quoted frequent visit of Security experts from UK and Australia, among other things, are causing concern for the security agencies. "They are strict, they won't allow media today. We are surprised even as South Africa team is playing test matches here, what is the problem for hockey?"
He has been requested to take up the matter with concerned authorities and a media policy be formed the quicker the better.
Anupam Ghulati, who looks after the media matters in HI, assured of follow up with SAI authorities. If HI seems to be in control of things, it should do something in this vital matter before it goes out of hand, and mere expression of surprise and sympathy won't do for long.
It is a collective responsibility of SAI, HI, even FIH, to see media is not put into unnecessary troubles.
A good coverage of the events leading to the World Cup is a must for the climax to be built around the event when it starts two and half weeks later.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to witness today's match is almost not there for many of us.