Malaysian Women's Hockey Team Barred From Playing 2 Asian Champions Trophy Matches
Malaysian women's hockey has been barred from the first two matches at the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT), which starts today, 5 December
The tournament, being held in Donghae, South Korea, is scheduled to be held between 5 to 12 December.
Donghae City officials have ruled against Malaysia being allowed to play after one of the Malaysian players, Nurul Faezah Shafiqah, tested positive for COVID-19 a day after arriving for the tournament.
According to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), the Malaysian team arrived in South Korea on 29 November and Nurul Faezah's COVID-19 test results returned a positive the next day.
"She was immediately separated from the rest of the Malaysian players and officials to begin her quarantine," MHC said in a statement, adding that the confederation is baffled with the turn of events as everyone had undergone a COVID-19 test as regulated to board a flight, and all the results were negative.
Following Nurul Faezah testing positive, and the entire contingent being placed under quarantine, several tests were conducted since
While no other positive results were found, South Korean health officials are adamant that the Malaysian team can't play the first two matches against China today, 5 December and India on Monday, 6 December.
The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) tried its best to back Malaysia's bid to play in the tournament as they wrote a strongly worded letter and also had a three-hour meeting with Donghae health officials.
"The Donghae City officials also explained the reasoning for the team's quarantine. The AHF acknowledge that for medical reasons, this might be the current procedure for the Korean Health authorities. Unfortunately, as the current situation stands, the Malaysian team will not play on the first and second day of the event, meaning matches on Sunday and Monday," a statement by AHF read.
New Straits Times reported that this means their tournament is over even before it started.
In light of the developments, it's not clear yet who will play against the Indian team — the highest-ranked team taking part — on Monday
The Indian women's hockey team will begin their campaign with an opening tie against Thailand.
"The team's focus right now is to make a good start. This is our first international outing after the Olympics and playing the first match will always create some butterflies in the stomach. But we have prepared well and we are geared up for the challenge," India's ace goalkeeper Savita said.