Ajit Sharan, as secretary of sports, will travel to Incheon accredited as sports minister heading a government delegation, the ministry admitted on Tuesday.
"It is true that sports secretary Ajit Sharan has been placed under the sports minister category… This fact has not been wrongly submitted by Mr Sharan. As per the accreditation done by the IOA, the overall head of the Indian delegation is sports minister, and in his absence, the next in line, who is accompanying the contingent, gets the accreditation of sports minister," it said in a statement.
If this wasn't bizarre enough, the ministry defended Sharan taking along his wife saying that her expenses will be borne by him. But this would go against the government's stand. While pruning the athletic contingent submitted by the IOA, the government refused to allow any athlete or official to travel at their own cost to Incheon even if accredited to the Games.
HT had reported on Monday that, having set stringent rules for the Indian athletic contingent, the government has ignored those principles while choosing its delegation and that many of them will carry accreditations describing them as the National Olympic Committee (NOC) members.
The accreditation also places SAI director general, Jiji Thomson, in an awkward situation. The accreditation describes him as 'NOC member'. The ministry argued that "the accreditation process is done by the IOA and they have placed the officials under the categories which they found appropriate."
Onkar Kedia, joint secretary (sports), told HT in Incheon: "While other national associations work in harmony, we are a divided lot and that's why some people are spreading misinformation," he said, adding: "I am here for the next 3-4 days to check the different venues and their preparations, following which another official assigned a different task will come here."