New Delhi:With the Hockey World Cup set to start this Sunday in Delhi and the IPL getting underway next month, security is the big buzzword not just in India but also in every participating country. Many international players have expressed their reservations about playing under the shadow of the gun but there really seems like there's no other option.
Four time World Champions Pakistan arrived in India through the Wagah border. With Australia and South Africa already in New Delhi, they are the third team to get in ahead of the World Cup and they arrive in the midst of security warnings, terror threats and gun toting policemen.
Asif Bajwa, Pakistan Team Manager, 2010 Hockey World Cup, said, "We were the first team to give the thumbs up to the security plan here, that India was a safe place to play and that we have no issue with playing hockey over here."
However, New Zealand's Simon Child was not convinced and so he withdrew from the team early on Monday. The 21-year-old said he wasn't mentally prepared to play under the shadow of the gun.
Hockey New Zealand, however, have said they're satisfied with the security which has turned their hotel into a mini-fortress. Clearly, nobody is willing to take any chances given the number of sporting events lined up in India culminating in October's Commonwealth Games.
G K Pillai, Home Secretary, Government of India, said, "At the moment, there are no credible threats to any of the sporting events in the country. But we still take the maximum precautions and we will continue to take maximum precautions in the coming months."
Those precautions include ten extra paramilitary companies being provided for the World Cup.
However, not everybody is convinced, some are calling it a free for all.
"This is the national sport and the World Cup is being played here. It is very unfortunate that it is being handled this way. Even a club tournament is handled better", said Pargat Singh, Former India Hockey Captain.
So visiting hockey teams will have to get used practicing under the shadow of the gun rather than the shadow of the camera given that the media is yet to be allowed inside the national stadium.