The Kenyan national women’s hockey team has withdrawn from next month’s Olympic qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Confirming the development Monday, the International Hockey Federation (IHF) said it had been informed by the Kenyan hockey authorities that the East Africans had withdrawn from the event following the recent political turmoil in the country.
It, however, made no mention of stiff penalties imposed on teams that make last-minute withdrawal from international events.
The event, the last chance for teams that have not qualified for August’s 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, is slated for 12-20 April in Baku.
Kenya’s place has also not been taken up by any East African neighbour, according to the international federation.
“The IHF has sought a replacement team from that region, but unfortunately without success. As a result, the competition will now be a five-nation tournament”, said the world field hockey governors.
Hosts Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chile, Spain and Ukraine will battle it out with the winner taking the Olympic slot.
The global body says Kenya’s withdrawal had forced it to rework the competition format.
Last week, the Kenya Hockey Union secretary-general, Peter Kiruma, announced Kenya’s withdrawal, saying the bulk of its players called up were not attending training sessions at the City Park stadium for various reasons.
Players from outside Nairobi, especially those from the western parts of the country which bore the brunt of the violence, could not travel to the nation’s capital while national team regulars in the capital also skipped the sessions.
It also appeared the team was short on finances.