The Indian hockey team trained ‘in camera’ as the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium remained out of bounds for the media. Even as the team started the final leg of its practice at the newly-built stadium here on Wednesday, the media was denied entry to the World Cup venue.
A newspaper photographer was detained by the police for “trespassing” after he was caught and handed over by the stadium security. He was later released. A large number of mediapersons were stranded at the main gate of the stadium as they made vain efforts to convince the staff and security personnel guarding the premises. The staff said that orders had come from the “very top level” not to allow the media entry.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) said mediapersons were not allowed because of security reasons. “The decision has come from the highest level. Media is not allowed for the practice sessions because of security reasons,” SAI Joint Secretary Pravir Krishn said.
The SAI offered an explanation in its defence. “There is also a strategic reason. The training cannot be exposed (before the World Cup),” Mr. Krishn said. According to Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra, the authorities were willing to allow media interaction with the team at the stadium only once in a week. “I will get my pass to enter the stadium only tomorrow,” he said.
Mr. Batra said he had tried to convince the SAI about the need to allow the media access to the stadium for building up the World Cup starting on February 28 but they were unrelenting.
“When the National team is preparing for the World Cup on home turf, it is strange to prevent the mediapersons from covering the build-up for the mega event. The game needs the support of the media,” said Aslam Sher Khan, a member of the 1975 World Cup-winning Indian team.
Ticket sale starts
Meanwhile, online ticket sales became official on Wednesday.
Hockey lovers can buy the tickets on the official website of the event ( www.msnindia.com/worldcuphockey).
Tickets will be available at select Café Coffee Day outlets, Union Bank of India branches, 24 X 7 convenience stores here from February 12 onwards. More information can be had from the following phone number: 080-23611940.