SAI accepts David John resignation as Hockey India's high performance director

India prepare to defend a penalty corner against world champions Belgium during their Pro League match in Bhubaneswar on February 9, 2020. Hockey India

The Sports Authority of India has accepted the resignation of David John, the high performance director at Hockey India, just days after having extended his contract until September 2021. John had resigned on August 18, through an email to SAI and Hockey India. SAI - his official employers -- however had not accepted his resignation until Tuesday. The SAI communiqué announcing his resignation said John had cited concern for his personal health in the current COVID-19 situation in India and had expressed his desire to go back to Australia.

According to those in the know, John had offered his resignation after being told to make trips with juniors to training centers across the country in the middle of the pandemic. John's reluctance to travel must be seen in the context of the fact that six members of the Indian hockey team were hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 after reporting to the national hockey camp earlier this month.

Earlier In May, Hockey India's office had to be shut down after two staffers tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. "It was a serious concern for him since there were so many cases of infections in India and he's over fifty years old himself. He also knew that if someone got infected, it was he would have to answer for it," suggested an individual with knowledge of the situation.

John has been associated with Indian hockey for a major part of the last decade. He had first worked as the physio of the men's team during the tenure of former coach Michael Nobbs. During that stint, he was credited with improving the players' fitness levels, bringing them on par with the rest of the world. He subsequently left the team following a disappointing finish at the 2012 Olympics but returned following the 2016 Olympics as the high performance director of the team. Although questions were raised owing to his lack of any prior coaching experience, John had become a key figure in the sport in India, designing Hockey India's coaching program. He also played an important role in the appointment of coaches for the national team.

Since the start of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, he had been working out of his home in New Delhi. He had however conducted classes as part of the Sports Authority e-learning programme.