IOA writes to Sports ministry, wants to boycott Commonwealth Games
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) continued to build pressure on the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) over its decision to exclude shooting sport from the 2022 Birmingham Games by writing a letter to sports minister, Kiren Rijiju, expressing the desire to pull out of the quadrennial event.
A day after the IOA intimated the CGF that it will not send its representatives to the general assembly in Kigali, Rawanda (Sept 3-5, 2019), the National Olympic Committee (NOC) has sought the government’s support on the issue of boycotting the games, though it’s unlikely the CWG will bow to the pressure. The IOA has also sought a meeting with the minister on this issue.
Ever since shooting sport was dropped from the 2022 CWG curriculum, voices of discontent have grown as the sport had given India 16 medals out of a total of 66 at the 2018 Gold Coast edition. “We realise and understand that such decisions have to be taken keeping in mind the political sensitivities and we in the IOA are not the experts in that field. That is why we seek appointment with your good self to deliberate on the issue of proposed boycott of the 2022 games,” said IOA president Narinder Batra in his letter to Rijiju.
In the event of India boycotting the games, it could harm sportspersons in disciplines such as athletics, hockey, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting where India has a good chance of amassing medals.
Through his letter, Batra also informed about IOA’s decision to pull out of the CWG general assembly and also the withdrawal of the candidature of its secretary Rajeev Mehta and Namdev Shirgaonkar from the CWG elections in Kigali.
In his letter, Batra also cited India’s medal count in shooting in the last three editions of the games. “We have been noticing over a period of time that wherever India seems to be getting a grip of the game and performing well, we find that either the goalposts are shifted or rules are changed.”
Batra said that India’s overall medals tally will drop from third in 2018 to “anywhere between fifth and eighth in 2022”, and the “total number of medals won in 2018 i.e. 66 will also come down”.
“We want to express our protest by not taking part in the 2022 games to make the CWG understand that we are not prepared for India bashing anymore. People with a particular mindset in CWG need to understand that India is not a colony anymore and is now the fifth largest economy in the world.” Batra said the matter will be discussed in the IOA general assembly soon.
The CGF has held the view that shooting was never a mandatory sport in the CWG curriculum and that it was the decision of the hosts to pick and choose sports from the “non-mandatory list”. The Organising Committee of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games decided to exclude shooting as there was no suitable shooting range in the vicinity and building a new one would escalate costs.
India opposed the decision and engaged the CGF officials at various levels to get shooting included but the efforts were in vain as the sport was dropped and beach volleyball — which was very popular in Gold Coast — and women’s T20 cricket were included. That decision will be ratified by the CGF general assembly in Rawanda.