Narinder Batra Image Credit: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Dubai: Narinder Batra’s term as president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has been extended until May 2021, after the governing body confirmed the postponement of its Congress because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The presidential election had been scheduled at this year’s Congress in New Delhi, India, but has now been pushed back by six months in response to the current crisis sweeping the globe.

Batra’s first four-year stint at the helm of the worldwide body was set to expire at the gathering of the FIH membership, initially scheduled for October 28 to November 1.

The FIH Executive Board that met via video conference late on Friday, confirmed Batra’s extension along with a similar extension of four Executive Board members until fresh elections are held in May 2021.

A statement released by the world governing body for field hockey also confirmed that the subsequent second term would be shortened from four to three years. Hence, should Batra, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by virtue of his role as head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), be re-elected, his second stint would end in 2024.

A similar rule will also apply to the four Executive Board members, namely Danae Andrada (Uruguay), Hazel Kennedy (Zambia) Erik Cornelissen (Netherlands) and Tayyab Ikram (Macau).

Batra had caused a bit of confusion earlier this week when he had proclaimed beforehand that his tenure had been extended until June 2021. However, the 63-year-old Indian was seemingly forced into a swift retraction and backtracking of his initial comments.

Hockey-lovers have been pressing for a change at the top of the FIH as Batra has been allegedly accused of not dedicating enough time to the sport. His critics insist that the Delhi-based administrator is prioritising his IOA presidency over his position as the FIH head.

However, Batra is the one who has overseen the launch of the much-acclaimed FIH Hockey Pro League, a fledgling home-and-away competition that has effectively replaced the Champions Trophy and Hockey World League tournaments.

“Despite the current challenging times for most organisations, FIH has kept working hard to pursue its mission of developing hockey worldwide,” Batra told media after hearing about his extension.

“I am looking forward to the numerous tournaments and competitions ahead of us, which we are preparing with full dedication and passion with all National Associations involved,” he added.