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Delays, allowance mess may hurt India at Asian Games

With just a day to go before the 17th Asian Games kick off, players from around the world are busy practising at the various venues here. But most of the Indian contingent is nowhere to be seen.

other Updated: Sep 18, 2014 03:11 IST
Ajai Masand

With just a day to go before the 17th Asian Games kick off, players from around the world are busy practising at the various venues here. But most of the Indian contingent is nowhere to be seen.

They are still back in India thanks to the dilly-dallying of government officials and an order by the sport ministry that has severely curtailed their travel plans.

After spending several anxious days waiting for the Centre to clear them for the games, a sports ministry order informed the athletes that the government would only bear expenses in terms of providing them accommodation and daily allowances, for a period of five days before their competition starts till a day after their event ends.

Practice session for many events start a good 10 days before competition so that athletes have time to train, and far more crucially, acclimatise to the weather conditions. But the diktat has forced many athletes to miss their sessions and could have a serious impact on India’s medal hopes in at least 8 to 10 disciplines.

With time slots and space a big constraint in Incheon, teams had to book their practice sessions well in advance. Now, the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee is being forced to cancel one session after another earmarked for the Indian squads as they are yet to turn up.

On Wednesday, the session for the men’s and women’s boxing teams had to be cancelled because the team, originally scheduled to arrive on September 12-13, did not arrive. India’s deputy Chef-de-Mission Bhupinder Singh Bajwa said the squad is now expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon. “At least 8-10 disciplines have suffered badly because of the new government order,” Bajwa told HT.

A training session is lined up for the boxing squad at around 2pm local time on Thursday (10.30 am IST) but the jet-lagged pugilists would probably be clearing customs or boarding the bus to the Games Village around that time.

India’s boxing contingent has already faced plenty of uncertainty because of recognition issues concerning the national federation. Those issues are only now being sorted out. Boxing events commence on September 23.

Bajwa said acclimatisation would be the biggest problem.

“The weather at Incheon is mildly cold and our boxers are coming from a warmer environment.” On Wednesday, at the Incheon High School, which is an hour’s journey from the Main Press Centre, an empty bus earmarked for India was parked at the entrance. Syrian and Iranian boxers were sweating it out in the ring.

No Wushu medal expectations

Bajwa said wushu too had suffered as the team, scheduled to arrive on September 12, landed only on Wednesday. “The eight-member contingent has already lost around five sessions. We were expecting a handful of medals from wushu, but not now.” India’s Chef-de-Mission, Adille Sumariwala, was unavailable for comment.