Canada will not participate in this season's Hockey Pro League ©Getty Images

Canada have become the latest team to withdraw from this season's men's Hockey Pro League because of COVID-19 concerns.

The North American side had been added to the line-up for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) event after Australia and New Zealand pulled out due to fears over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In a statement, Field Hockey Canada said it was "unable to commit to the Pro League at this time" following a risk assessment and the latest Government health advice.

The national governing body said the cancellation of the Indoor Hockey World Cup, which had been set to take place in Belgium in the first week of February, had played a role in its decision not to participate in the Pro League.

"While we have consistently expressed our interest in joining the league, we postponed any formal commitment based on the uncertainty around athlete safety," said Field Hockey Canada chief executive Susan Ahrens.

The Hockey Pro League season began in October with matches staged solely in Europe ©Getty Images
The Hockey Pro League season began in October with matches staged solely in Europe ©Getty Images

"This uncertainty continues to this day, and with the first round scheduled to begin in South Africa in less than one month, now is the time to make this decision."

Field Hockey Canada high-performance director Adam Janssen added: "Since March 2020, our athletes and staff have faced huge challenges. 

"Unlike the World Cup and Olympic qualifiers, the Pro League is not part of the podium pathway and with continued uncertainty around athlete welfare, we are forced to make this difficult decision."

A spokesperson for the FIH said the organisation was hoping to announce Canada's replacement in the next few days.

The 2021-2022 men's Hockey Pro League began in October with matches played solely in Europe.

South Africa - who also joined as a replacement team following Australia and New Zealand's withdrawal, despite concerns over Omicron - are due to open the next round of men's fixtures against The Netherlands in Potchefstroom on February 8.