South Africa have been added to the men's Hockey Pro League ©Getty Images

South Africa have been added to the line-up for the men's Hockey Pro League, despite concerns over the outbreak of a new variant of COVID-19 in the country.

The African nation and Canada have replaced Australia and New Zealand following their withdrawal due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) Executive Board approved the participation of South Africa and Canada during its latest meeting today.

The FIH said the two nations competing in the Hockey Pro League "is temporary and limited to this edition only".

Australia and New Zealand were forced to pull out of the competition, and other major FIH events, because of strict COVID-19 measures in place in the countries.

The 2021-2022 men's Hockey Pro League began in October and all matches staged so far have been held in Europe.

Several countries have already either banned flights from South Africa or asked returning travellers to quarantine following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

It is not yet clear what effect this will have on South Africa's participation in the Hockey Pro League.

Canada and South Africa have replaced Australia and New Zealand ©Getty Images
Canada and South Africa have replaced Australia and New Zealand ©Getty Images

"It's great that both South Africa and Canada are joining the FIH Hockey Pro League," said FIH chief executive Thierry Weil. 

"Both teams are the first ones from Africa and North America to join the Men's League, which is excellent for the growth and globalisation of hockey."

The FIH said South Africa would also be given priority to host the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup, which had been due to start this week before it was postponed due to concerns over the Omicron variant.

The tournament in Potchefstroom had been scheduled to run from December 5 to 16 before being called off by the FIH in late November.

"Regarding the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021, which was initially scheduled for this month but had to be put 'on hold' because of the Omicron variant outbreak, the Executive Board has decided that this event should be postponed and that South Africa should have priority for hosting it," the FIH said.

"The Executive Board also expressed thanks to the organisers - both the South African Hockey Association and the North-West University of Potchefstroom - for their intense preparations."