Why India’s Olympic champ Abhinav Bindra is in the firing line
Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra, is facing backlash from shooters — mostly 50m rifle prone marksmen — after the ISSF Athletes’ Committee he heads recommended that 50m pistol, 50m rifle-prone and double trap events be dumped out of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.Updated: Dec 04, 2016 22:42 IST
Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra, is facing the backlash from shooters — mostly 50m rifle prone marksmen — after the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Athletes’ Committee he heads recommended that 50m pistol, 50m rifle-prone and double trap events be dumped out of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
One of the key principles of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter is gender equality, meaning equal number of events for both men and women at the quadrennial events. The recommendations were made by the committee to correct a wrong — currently there are nine men’s and six women’s events.
However, this has not gone down well with the shooters, especially 50m rifle prone, who will not be able to compete in Tokyo if the IOC accepts the recommendations.
Being the chairman of the seven-member Athletes Committee, Bindra is at the receiving end of shooters’ ire from around the world, some of them Olympic and world champions.
- The ISSF Athletes’ Committee is headed by Abhinav Bindra with Nasser Al-Attiya (Qatar), Zorana Arunovic (Serbia), Marco De Nicolo (Italy), Jong Oh-jin (Korea), Henri Junghänel (Germany) and Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova (Slovakia) the other members.
- When wrestling was first dropped and then re-admitted for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the world body dropped one division each in men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman to add two women’s divisions, making it 6-6-6.
- One of India’s Olympic medals came in men’s double trap, the event recommended to be dropped. Rajyavardhan Rathore won silver at the 2004 Athens Games.
The committee had recommended the double trap event be replaced with trap mixed gender team event, while the 10m air rifle mixed gender team event replace the 50m rifle prone event. Besides, the 50m pistol men’s event be done away with and be replaced by 10m air pistol mixed gender team event.
Angry shooters such as Czech Republic’s Miroslav Varga (gold medallist, 50m rifle prone, 1988 Seoul Olympics), Norway’s Harald Stenvaag (two-time Olympic medallist and triple world champion, 10m air rifle, rifle prone and rifle 3-pos events) have come down heavily on the committee’s recommendations, saying it is the worst decision.
Varga said on a social network: “Dear Abhinav, I think you are on the bad side,” while Norway’s Harald Stenvaag, winner of two Olympic medals and a three-time world champion in 10m Air Rifle, Rifle Prone and Rifle Three Position events, has said that, “Now, the Olympic dream of thousands of prone shooters worldwide is crossed. By disappointing the largest group of shooters worldwide it might make birth of the “World Prone-Shooting Federation (sic).”
Bindra in his defence has said he is “not the driving force behind any decision”. “Just for everybody’s information I’m not the driving force behind any decision. It’s a collective recommendation which is due to be taken up by the executive committee and admin council. You can all be rest assured I will voice all your concerns and thoughts as I have always done,” Bindra clarified.
Following a spate of angry comments, Bindra took to Twitter, saying, “The @ISSF_Shooting recommendations were bound to generate a lot of emotion. The youth in their feedback are particularly excited.” In another tweet, he said, “Look at the bigger picture, to ensure our strong presence within the Olympic movement.”
The @ISSF_Shooting recommendations were bound to generate a lot of emotion.The youth in their feedback are particularly excited.— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) December 3, 2016
Bindra also issued a letter assuaging the feelings of the shooting community: “The guiding principle was to look at (the) situation in a holistic manner which would be beneficial in the long term for the shooting sport in order for us to maintain our presence in the Olympic movement.”
The Veterans & specialists are most understandably angered &disappointed. keeping the sport strong with the Olympic movement is paramount.— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) December 3, 2016