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Commonwealth Games 2018: IOA slams sports ministry in war over ‘extras’

Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra insisted there are no ‘passengers’ in the 222-member list of Indian contingent forwarded to the sports ministry for mandatory clearance.

other sports Updated: Mar 22, 2018 20:09 IST
N. Ananthanarayanan
N. Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Commonwealth Games 2018,Indian Olympic Association,Narinder Batra
The Indian Olympic Association is in conflict with the Sports Ministry over ‘extras’ among the 74 non-athletes in the squad, with the IOA unofficially learning that at least 21 names have been cut from the yet-to-be-approved list.(AFP)

With barely 10 days left for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to start, a row has flared up between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the sports ministry over the size of the contingent.

This time, IOA collated the contingent list from federations – India are entered in 15 sports at the Games to be held in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 – and forwarded a 222-member list.

However, the sports ministry, headed by 2004 Olympic shooting silver medallist, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, is yet to provide its mandatory clearance, though some of the athletes are already in Australia for pre-Games training.

The main point of contention is over ‘extras’ among the 74 non-athletes in the squad, in a contingent that IOA bosses said on Thursday will be the second largest at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The sports ministry usually prunes the list, but IOA president, Narinder Batra, slammed the ministry saying he has unofficially learnt that at least 21 names have been cut from the yet-to-be-approved list.

Those being termed ‘extra’ officials were those whose services are required but are above the permitted number and not passengers on the squad, Batra told reporters at a farewell function here for the athletes.

“As per the CWG rules, 74 officials, one-third of the total squad, are permitted. Extra officials in every team are required. Let me assure you that they are not going on government cost. The federations are paying for them,” he said.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh presided over the function. Minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, was also present. Sports minister Rathore was away in Bangalore.

Sindhu, Saina in focus

Controversy has also been fuelled over the inclusion of Harvir Singh and P Vijaya, father of Saina Nehwal and mother of PV Sindhu respectively, in the badminton list as ‘extra’ officials. Rule says parents cannot be named managers like in the past, but Batra said the Badminton Federation of India (BAI) taking the parents of the two Olympic medallists should not be made an issue.

“Why is the government making so much noise? At the Incheon Asian Games (2014) a manager for the boxing contingent was not cleared. When the Sarita Devi issue happened (the drama over her protest after a controversial semifinal loss to a Korean boxer eventually led to a one-year ban), there was no official to file the protest. The chief coach had to supervise MC Mary Kom’s bout. The $100 dollars protest fee was given by a journalist and it was later returned. You blame the federation for every wrong step, but how many (SAI) Sports Authority of India officials are going? What business do they have?”

“I’m told 21 names have been cut. If our performance goes down, the sports ministry should stand up and take responsibility. If there are passengers in the squad, tell us.”

Asked if he was on a warpath with the sports ministry, Batra said: “If you think it’s warpath, I can’t help. I am only placing facts before you. Maybe certain people who are taking decisions have no idea about it. If it’s warpath, so be it.”

India will have to rise above this row in Australia. From second in the medals tally when India hosted the 2010 CWG, they slipped to fifth in the medals table at 2014 Glasgow Games.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 19:27 IST