Torch relay sets off, IOA says no change to Asian Games contingent
The Asian Games torch was lit by Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra and secretary general Rajiv Mehta here on Sunday morning at the iconic Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. The stadium had hosted the inaugural edition of the multi-discipline sports event in 1951.
After the ceremonial lighting, Olympic bronze-medallist boxer MC Mary Kom started the torch relay. Thirty prominent Indian athletes, including pistol shooter Jitu Rai and skipper of men’s hockey PR Sreejesh, participated in the relay.
However, there was a minor hiccup as elite athletes — Sreejesh, Sardar Singh, Rai and Sharath Kamal were forced to hitch a ride on the media bus from the stadium to India Gate as there was confusion over their transport.
The torch was later handed to the Asian Games Organising Committee delegate headed by Indonesian Olympic Committee president Erick Thohir, who is also the chairman of the Organising Committee. The flame is expected to travel across 54 cities in Indonesia before the opening ceremony on August 18.
No change in contingent
Batra, meanwhile, said there will be no change in the composition of the Indian contingent bound for Asian Games. “Since the deadline of sending entry by name is over, we are not adding names to the list,” he said on the sidelines of torch relay.
On July 3, the IOA had announced a 524-member squad for the quadrennial event. Since then, it has made changes to the list. The Handball Federation of India has gone to the court since the IOA did not approve a men’s handball team. The court will announce its verdict on Monday.
The IOA, meanwhile, is appointing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhusan Sharan Singh as Chef-de-Mission for Asian Games although it is yet to make the announcement official. It has also appointed four deputy Chefs-de-Mission —Rajkumar Sancheti (boxing), Col RK Swain (equestrian), Balbir Singh Khuhawa (kayaking) and DK Singh (secretary, Uttarkhand Olympic Association).