In a big blow to the country’s sporting powerhouse Haryana, the Haryana sportspersons will be walking under the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) flag during the 35th edition of the National Games in Kerala to be held from January 31 to February 14.
It means the medals they will win will not be credited in the account of the state.
Haryana had finished overall third in the 2011 Ranchi National Games with a rich haul of 115 medals, including 42 gold and 33 silver. The athletes from Bihar, too, will compete under the IOA flag. In Ranchi Games, Bihar with 12 medals finished overall 24th.
Not representing their states will also deprive them of the state government’s cash awards.
Haryana gives cash awards of Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for the gold, silver and bronze medal winners, respectively, whereas Bihar doesn’t have a fixed policy on cash awards.
The Haryana sportspersons being deprived of representing their state is a result of long ongoing tussle between the two bodies of Haryana Olympic Association (HOA) in the state. The one led by former DGP PV Rathi has been struggling to get the IOA affiliation and the national Olympic body is not entertaining the entries forwarded by them. The Abhay Chautala-supported faction that has a good clout in the IOA has been restrained by the Punjab and Haryana high court from using the banner of the HOA in any form. Because of that there was even no representation of HOA in the IOA’s Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) held in Chennai on December 19.
In the AGM, it was decided to form a three-member committee to look after the entries of the Haryana contingent for the Games and the entries will be forwarded through the IOA. The committee will comprise an IOA official, an eminent sportsperson from the state and a representative of the Haryana government. The IOA has written to the Haryana government to forward a name for the committee.
“We are the eligible body and even the court has given the decision in our favour. We have already sent the entries,” said Rathi. “If the IOA does not allow our athletes to participate under its own state Olympic unit’s banner, it would be a big loss for the players. They will not only lose the state government’s cash awards, but will also miss out on other benefits related to the medals,” Rathi added.
The IOA has barred the Bihar Olympic Association from participating in the Games on the Bihar government’s attempt to challenge the autonomy of the state associations, which is against the Olympics charter.