A jumbo 944-member contingent proposed for the upcoming Incheon Asian Games in South Korea has been pruned to 679 following guidelines issued by the prime minister’s office (PMO).
PM Narendra Modi himself is known to travel light and it seems the principle is now being applied to sports contingents. “Questioning the need for so many officials in the delegation, the PMO suggested that a minimum number of officials, without affecting performance of players, should be included,” a top government official told HT on condition of anonymity.
The initial figure of 944 — 662 athletes and 282 coach/officials — was proposed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), but hit a wall with the sports ministry wanting it cut by nearly a third. The new whittled down 679-member contingent includes 516 athletes and 163 officials.
As a result of the cuts, India will participate in only 28 disciplines and won’t take part in rugby 7s, 10-pin bowling, modern pentathlon, triathlon, soft tennis, fencing and beach volleyball.
Rakesh Gupta, an IOA functionary, said the government has not cleared names for team managers yet and it “would approach the ministry again on this issue”.
At the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad in China, India had fielded a contingent of 933 – 609 athletes and 324 officials – and taken part in 35 disciplines. It won 65 medals, including 14 gold.
Read: Govt clears 679-member Indian contingent for Asiad
Issuing guidelines for the selection of sports contingents in future, the PMO said the principle of ‘no cost to government’ should not be a consideration while finalising the team. “It also advised that the criterion for selection be finalised at least six months to a year before selection so that aspirants are able to achieve the benchmarks,” said the official.
The sports ministry has also blamed the IOA for not sending the contingent list at least 90 days prior to the event as per guidelines. “We received the list on August 21 (the Games start on September 19 and conclude on October 4),” a ministry statement said.
The IOA is yet to decide on its own delegation for Incheon. There is speculation that at least two officials from each discipline that India is taking part in will go.