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    Default Event to test facilities before hockey World Cup scrapped

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    The four-nation hockey tournament to test the facilities at the renovated National Stadium before the World Cup has been cancelled. The excuse trotted out is that the international body has refused permission, but a more believable reason could be that the stadium is not yet ready for the start of the event Jan 17.

    Hockey India (HI) president and Commonwealth Games Organising Committee member Ashok Kumar Mattoo told reporters Monday that a bilateral series with France is being planned as part of the national team's preparation for the Feb 28-March 13 World Cup.

    The National Stadium was supposed to be ready by Dec 15, but there was no way the test event could have been held as scheduled with construction work nowhere near meeting even the extended deadline.

    Mattoo, however, said the venue would be ready for the World Cup.

    "We are planning to arrange a Test series before the World Cup and for that we are in talks with some countries. Prospects of playing France are bright," Mattoo said on the sidelines of the signing of an MoU by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee with Central Bank of India as its official banking partner.

    The inordinate delay in getting the venues ready had irked the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), and the Coordination Commission was clearly unhappy with the extended deadlines for the handing over of the venues.

    CGF chairman Michael Fennell termed the delays as "distressing".


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