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Farcical start to Winter Games

other Updated: Jan 11, 2011 01:22 IST
Navneet Singh

The indoor competitions in the inaugural South Asian Winter Games in Dehradun turned out to be a farce as competitors from other countries failed to turn up for the figure skating event in both the men's and women's categories. With just the home team in the fray, the only competition of the day was declared a non-medal event.

As per the International Skating Union (ISU) rules, medals can't be distributed in any event if the number of teams is less than three. An ISU official Gyorgy Sallak, who is here as an observer, said: "Since teams are less than required, no medal will be awarded."

Although frustrated after medals were denied for no fault of theirs, the 10-member Indian team, including five women, did not show their frustration. "We are here to represent the country," was all a team member said. At the end of the day, the home team players were merely felicitated for their efforts.

SS Patwal, president, Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI), expressed helplessness over the foreign teams not participating.

"Our job was to invite them. If players from other countries don't participate in competition, we can't force them." With Pakistan withdrawing its entire squad from indoor competitions from the start, prior to the start of the figure skating event, WGFI tried its best to encourage players from Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to try gliding on artificial ice.

At the end of the day, all efforts went in vain as Indians were the only participants here.

With ice hockey already scratched from the schedule due to lack of participants, WGFI announced it would be held as a demonstration event. The chance of others events, including speed skating, being declared non-medal event is on the cards.

A WGFI technical official said: "We have to wait and see if players from other nations agree to line up for the speed event by tomorrow. If not, no medals will be given for that too."

Going by the response so far, the home team members will have to contest among themselves. An Indian player said: "The nationals are better off. At least we get a medal to show."