The pullout of prominent international athletes less than three months before the Commonwealth Games has not gone down well with Sports Minister, MS Gill.
A day after Beijing Olympic gold-medallist, Chris Hoy of Scotland became the latest athlete to withdraw from the October 3-14 event, Gill expressed strong displeasure and said he would tell Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell to look into the matter.
“Drifting away from the games by stars like Hoy, (Usain) Bolt and (Shelly Ann) Fraser is not a good sign. Sportsmen are stars that fans come out to see and they determine the success of a sporting event,” he said, and added that the country did not want CWG to just become “the meeting ground of sporting officials from around the world”.
“There is no need for Fennell to bring an army of officials if the athletes don't participate,” he said at the inauguration of the Dr SP Mukherjee Sports Complex. The matter will also be discussed at the Commonwealth Nations' Sports Ministers meet on October 4.
The reason for the steady pullouts is being seen as preparatory absence ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.
Kalmadi, on his part, said individual pullouts would not matter much. “Australia has already assured us that they would bring 700 athletes, while England has confirmed participation of 500 which is a good sign,” he said. Perhaps, it is the quantity, not quality, that would be the parameter for success or failure, come October.
The British press however, is already predicting more withdrawals in the run-up to the games. “I don't think you'll see all of our top track athletes going to Delhi. We'll support any athlete who wants to prioritise the Europeans over the Commonwealth Games. Chris made the decision backed by us,” Great Britain Performance Director Dave Brailsford told Telegraph (UK). The European Championships which will be held in November at St. Petersburg will help athletes in 'continental rankings,' crucial for Olympic qualification.