With the Commonwealth Games, controversies cannot be far behind. This time, table tennis is in the spotlight. Prominent Indian manufacturer, Stag International, which provides table tennis equipment for competitions around the world, cried foul after being overlooked for the Games. German manufacturer Joola has been roped in for the October 3-14 event.
Rakesh Kohli, CEO, Stag, alleged that the Organising Committee (OC) did not show interest in handing the table tennis event to the Indian company on home turf. He said that a chance to build upon Brand India had been wasted. "We had offered equipment to the organisers free of charge. We wrote letters to the OC as well as the Prime Minister's Office with the offer. Unfortunately, we got no response," said Kohli, on the sidelines of the award function of the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council here. "Maybe a lot of money exchanged hands when they offered it to another company."
Kohli also said that Stag conformed to all the required standards and was approved by the International Table Tennis Federation. "Our tables are being used in Singapore for the Youth Olympic Games," he pointed out.
However, OC officials denied having received any communication. ASV Prasad, joint director-general, sports, said, "We received no communication from Stag. They didn't once tell us that they wanted to provide equipment. With 45 days to go, it's too late now to bring them in."
Maybe it was a case of miscommunication but Kohli provided copies of the letter he had written to both the OC and the PMO, with receipts from the courier service that was used.
The Games will employ Joola, a German sports equipment manufacturer, which will provide equipment free of charge and bring in sponsorships, giving value in kind. Until now, Stag has provided equipment for competitions on the domestic circuit, while Joola is used during international events in the country, such as the Indian Open and the Asian Championships held this year.
DR Choudhary, secretary, Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), said, "Joola tables were used during the test event in June. After that, the OC decided to bring them in for the Games."
Now, Stag has signed a new four-year contract with the TTFI to provide equipment, after Joola's two-year contract ended on July 31. Vivek Kohli, Stag vice president, said, "Indian athletes train with Stag equipment. The training centres in Pune and Patiala use it. And that could have really helped the Indian team."