If the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is to be believed then not only is it getting unprecedented requests for the London Olympic Games tickets from the 31-odd National Sports Federations (NSFs), but also from people who hold top positions in state associations, state sports ministers and leading sponsors of state-level tournaments.
“It’s a catch-22 situation for us. We have to entertain state federation officials, sports ministers and patrons who support sport at the state level,” said UP Olympic Association general secretary Anandeshwar Pandey.
Most state associations had demanded Rs. 10 lakh worth of tickets from the IOA, but what they have got this time around is not even enough to satisfy their own officials.
“We have been demanding tickets worth Rs. 10 lakh, but what we have received from the IOA are tickets worth only Rs. 2.5 lakh. How are we going to entertain those who support sport at the state level, where even a few lakhs of sponsorship is hard to come by? If we are not able to oblige people who help us organise major sporting events in states, how are we going to approach them again?” asks Pandey.
“We should remember that sportspersons don’t bring money to the sport. For that, we need all-round support from the state machinery, bureaucracy, businessmen etc. So, it's our duty to take them to London to raise their interest in sports.
“Annually, we invest nearly Rs. 50 lakh in organising sports events in states, and the government gives us a paltry Rs. 5-6 lakh and that too with riders. The rest of the money we manage on our own. We have to entertain powerful people by taking them to the big events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics so that they can support us in return.”
In a fix
Left with little choice, the IOA plans to circulate four transferable cards reportedly issued by the London Games organisers to officials of federations whose athletes have qualified for the mega event.
“Four officials from each federation will be able to avail the cards for only five days after which they will have to hand them over to another batch of officials from another discipline. Thee list of delegates has been drawn the dates given to them when they will have to hand over the cards to the next batch. The card holders will be entitled to a daily allowance, lodging and boarding facilities,” said Pandey.
“We are also in touch with the authorised agents to buy tickets for the Games.”
It won't be a surprise then that the delegates cleared by the sports ministry — PT Usha, Viren Rasquinha, Ashok Kumar, Rohit Rajpal, Manisha Malhotra, Khazan Singh and Aslam Sher Khan — go without tickets for some marquee events.
“With tickets valid for only one session, each member may get to visit the venues for short durations. Television is the only way out in that event,” said a source.