Stalemate adds to IOA's woes ahead of Asian Games
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), on Saturday, was supposed to register the Indian contingent with the Incheon Asian Games' organising committee, but had to postpone the process as the prime minister's office (PMO) had not cleared the disciplines for the continental event.
The registration is a mandatory exercise for all participating nations so that the members can enter the Games Village and use the facilities.
Confusion prevailed even on Monday, as IOA officials were clueless about the composition of the contingent as the government was yet to clear the team at the time of filing this copy.
As a result, the IOA has not sought a fresh date for registration from the Incheon organising committee. "We are yet to hear from the PMO, hence we can't move forward," said an IOA official, adding that the delay could cause logistical issues for the athletes.
The delay in clearing the teams forced the seven-member athletics team, comprising middle and long distance runners, to make their own arrangements while leaving for Korea to acclimatise.
All India Football Federation secretary-general, Kushal Das, expressed disappointment over the ambiguity. "We are going through a difficult phase," he told HT.
The football competition starts on September 14, and participating nations are expected to reach the Games Village by Tuesday. The India men's and women's teams, which are currently in Shanghai, was supposed to reach Incheon by Tuesday, but that seems unlikely now. "We were supposed to fly to Korea on Tuesday, but we might have to extend our stay in Shanghai," said an official associated with the team in China.
Despite the sports ministry not keen to send disciplines which have an unimpressive record at the Games, the AIFF had expressed its willingness to fund the trip and asked the government to clear the team on 'no cost to government'. The government is yet to take a call on that front.
There is speculation that the government will follow the rule book and the disciplines that don't get the nod will not be allowed to compete on 'no cost to government'.
Surprisingly, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), an arm of the sports ministry, had sanctioned the football camp for men, which was held at Bangalore from July 1-20.
An AIFF official said if the ministry was not keen to send the football team, it shouldn't have sanctioned the camps.
None of the ministry officials were willing to speak on the issue, and even the sports minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, wasn't available for comments. "He is busy with party work and will not be able to throw light on the matter," said an office staff.
Jiji Thomson, director-general, SAI, said he was eagerly awaiting the final list. "We can get the clearance any moment," he said.
Officials in the PMO said "the matter is under consideration and a decision is expected soon".