Focus back on South Asian Federation Games

The rains in Colombo have brought the media focus on the SAF Games as the India-Lanka cricket series is scrapped.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 02:27 IST

The rains in Colombo have unwittingly brought the media focus on the ongoing South Asian Federation (SAF) Gamesin the wake of the India-Sri Lanka cricket series being scrapped due to heavy showers, making the athletes and games officials happy at the turn of events.

The Indian media was set to give the eight-nation SAF games a go-by this time too like in 2004 during the Islamabad edition of the games, which had then coincided with the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Randhir Singh and IOA vice-president Mohammed Aslam Khan were visibly the happiest people as soon as news came of the cricket series being aborted.

"Now, you should stay back and cover the SAF Games," a smiling Randhir Singh told an Indian journalist, who was sent here for the cricket series.

"Now you will have to cover the games," chipped in Khan, bursting into a delighted guffaw.

Most of the Indian sportspersons here are glad too that the games - often called the poor man's regional competition - are back in sharp focus, though by default.

But pragmatic athletes like Indian badminton ace SK Shruti have accepted that cricket would get more coverage in the Indian media.

"It doesn't really make a difference to me. I know cricket will always get more coverage," Shruti, who will be playing in the women's team final on Tuesday, told IANS.

Apart from most of the 2,000-odd athletes taking part in 20 sports events in the 11-day regional event, the Sri Lankan organisers are also happy that media attention is now on the games.

They were happy with the coverage the games were getting since their official launch Friday.

Official games broadcaster Rupavahini television has been providing extensive coverage while leading newspapers are also full of SAF Games. Their main stories since Friday - and even before that - have been on the multi-sports competition.

Media attention has turned now on the games thanks to the rains and also the South African cricket team's decision to pullout from the triangular series.

The India-Sri Lanka series was arranged after South Africa pulled out of the triangular because of security concerns following a bomb blast last Monday in which seven people were killed.

After the South African team pulled out, the India-Sri Lanka series was hurriedly arranged. The one-day internationals were to be played Aug 18, 20 and 22 at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

But it had to be scrapped after rains prevented play due to soggy ground conditions. Only 22 deliveries were bowled in the first match before it was abandoned.

First Published: Aug 21, 2006 18:51 IST