New Delhi: Officials and former players associated with the game of hockey expressed shock on learning that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mulled to remove hockey from the Olympic programme in 2020 but eventually put wrestling in the group of 8 sports fighting for one spot.
TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping and global popularity were the factors assessed by IOC's programme commission before deciding to put baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wrestling and wushu on the slicing table.
"It's the pinnacle of our game and if we were no longer an Olympic sport, it would be crushing for our players," England Hockey chief executive Sally Munday told BBC.
According to BBC, hockey was one of the five sports facing the heat at the meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, and was still under threat after early round of voting in which canoeing and taekwondo survived. Hockey survived a close shave in the penultimate round of three sports, where it contested with wrestling and modern pentathlon.
"Hockey is one of the core sports of the Olympic Games and has been for a very long time, and following the huge success of hockey at last summer's Olympics in London, it was a bit of a shock to hear that hockey was in the bottom five," a surprised Munday told BBC. "As far as hockey is concerned, the success at London was massive and it was the third biggest sport in terms of ticket numbers. Over 630,000 were sold for the Games," she added.
Former India Olympian Jagbir Singh also seemed annoyed hearing the news. "Just have a look at the viewership of the Hockey India League (HIL) and you will know how popular this game is," he told Times of India. "If they were thinking of removing hockey as an Olympic sport, they better forget it."