India ended a 41-year wait for an Olympic men's hockey medal with a bronze in Tokyo three years ago, sparking hopes that the former powerhouse could secure a ninth gold in Paris. Most of India's victories came in an earlier era when the game was played on grass, often following soccer matches, and neighboring Pakistan was also a formidable force. The modern era of fast, flat astroturf has seen Germany, three-time champions, lead with the Netherlands, Britain, Australia, Argentina, and most recently Belgium also claiming top honors. The World Cup has mirrored this trend with early dominance by Pakistan and Germany securing their third title in 2023. India's Hardik Singh is the current World Player of the Year, succeeding his teammate Harmanpreet Singh, who is considered the best drag flicker globally. Harmanpreet believes the Tokyo bronze has restored faith in the Indian team, and teammate Lalit Kumar Upadhyay aims for gold in Paris.

Upadhyay emphasized the team's focus on converting their bronze to gold and noted the competitive nature of modern hockey where any team can win on a given day. The International Hockey Federation rankings reflect this with the Dutch, England, Belgium, Australia, Germany, and Argentina all ahead of India. India's squad, featuring five debutants and eight players named Singh, must finish in the top four of their pool to reach the quarterfinals. Upadhyay highlighted the team's emphasis on fitness and defense, leveraging their renowned counterattack strategy.

The term 'hockey' originates from the French 'hocquet', meaning 'shepherd's crook', and the upcoming tournaments will be held in Colombes, the main stadium of the 1924 Paris Olympics. Women's hockey began unpromisingly in 1980 with a boycott by invited teams, leading to Zimbabwe's sole title win. The Dutch women have since dominated, winning three of the last four Olympic golds and leading the World Cup rankings. Their 26-game winning streak was recently broken by Belgium, marking a significant victory in the FIH Hockey Pro League.