BHUBANESWAR: The warning signs were there even before the Series Finals began. An official involved with running the tournament suffered a heat stroke as the mercury soared in Bhubaneswar. A week later and the FIH have finally taken the decision to alter the timings of the remaining morning matches in the tournament.
“In order to adjust to the current high temperatures affecting Bhubaneswar and considering that the welfare of athletes, fans, volunteers, officials and everyone involved in an FIH event is paramount, FIH has decided that Friday’s first game (5th-6th place match) will start at 8.00 am IST (45 minutes before scheduled start),” an FIH press release said. “The decision has been taken in agreement with HI as well as broadcast and commercial partners.”
The international body had no choice but to take this step after players felt the heat during morning encounters over the last few days. In fact, it was so hot for Wednesday’s 7th-8th match between Uzbekistan and Mexico that the FIH had to invoke their ‘weather policy’. This meant that the quarter breaks extended to four minutes rather than the slated two minutes. There was also a water break after the completion of 7-and-a-half minutes.
It’s fair to say that the players weren’t too thrilled. “It was tough weather to play in,” Mexico’s Leon Miguel said. “I am happy that the umpires took the decision to provide a one minute break in the mid point of the third and fourth quarters as well.”
Considering the state government had already warned about the weather conditions, Mexico had already ensured they were adequately prepared. “We took a few extra measures to be fit on the ground. We also changed our food habits,” Miguel added. Mexico’s manager Chavira Hector said they had taken sufficient precaution to guard the players. “We cannot change the weather, but we can take precautionary measures to play in these conditions.”
The punishing conditions also came into focus on Monday during the USA vs Japan clash when the former’s custodian, Jonathan Klages, felt he was playing in the Sahara desert. “I felt like I was playing in the Sahara desert. It was like we were playing a 120-minute match and not a 60-minute match.” Meanwhile, India will play Japan for a place in the final.
Mexico 4-3 Uzbekistan; Japan 6-2 Poland; South Africa 2-1 Russia.
Thursday is a rest day