Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi rued Thursday's Olympic torch relay would not feature a single cricketer after injury kept Sachin Tendulkar away while pre-occupation came in the way of Sunil Gavaskar's participation.
"Tendulkar sent a message saying he is unwell. Besides, he is also busy with the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"Regarding Gavaskar, he initially agreed to run some three weeks back. But he too then got busy with the IPL. Well, they may not run but we have scores of other star sportspersons for the relay," Kalmadi told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday.
On Congress MP Rahul Gandhi's absence, Kalmadi said,"We extended an invitation to him and I also spoke to him day before yesterday. He told me he would be out of station tomorrow and that's why he can't be part of the relay."
Fellow Congress MP Sachin Pilot too was invited in the run but there was no confirmation from his end either, Kalmadi said. Earlier, Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia had pulled out of the event, showing his solidarity with the pro-Tibetan activists.
India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi also backed out, saying she did not want to run in an atmosphere where heavy security would make it suffocating for her.
Kalmadi, meanwhile, asserted that the string of pullouts would not rob the event of its sheen.
"Except Bhaichung Bhutia, those who have pulled out support the run and we are confident we would put up a good show tomorrow," he said.