New Delhi: Uncertainty hovered over defending champion India's participation in next month's Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey tournament as the national federation is yet to get the green signal from the Sports of Authority (SAI).
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said the national body faces the risk of a hefty financial penalty from the International Hockey Federation if it was forced to withdraw the team from the tournament, to be held in Johor Bahru, Malaysia from October 10-18.
"We have sent the request for approval to SAI on August 14 with all the necessary documents but, despite repeated reminders, we still haven't got the clearance. India are defending champions in the tournament and this event is a part of our preparation for next year's junior World Cup," Batra told PTI.
"Besides India, the other participating countries are Australia, Great Britain, Pakistan, New Zealand and Malaysia.
"It is an FIH-sanctioned event. Now if we pull out the team, Hockey India might end up paying penalty ranging from swiss franc 1.00 upto swiss francs 2,50,000, depending upon the decision of FIH Competitions Committee," he said.
"In all FIH-sanctioned event a mandatory 45-day intimation is needed to withdraw the team."
Batra said the tournament is a part of Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) approved for this year till the Asian Games.
"If you have decided not to allow the Indian team to go, then please let us know urgently so that the hosts can arrange for some alternate team.
"Please do not keep this matter pending and give your views to us on urgent basis, so that we do not have to face embarrassment in front of FIH," the HI secretary general said.
When contacted, SAI director general Jiji Thomson said he will look into the matter on a priority basis.
"I haven't seen anything from Hockey India as I am out of office today. But if the tournament is part of ACTC then it will definitely get the clearance soon," Thomson told PTI.