With less than 12 days to go for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, uncertainty still looms whether 21 officials named in the Indian Olympic Association's list would be granted clearance by the sports ministry to accompany the 296-member contingent to Gold Coast.
According to reports, the sports ministry's decision to not grant clearance to the people mentioned in the list is to stop officials from going on "fun rides" to such mega events. Commonwealth Games regulations state that the officials' contingent should be one-third of the athletes' contingent and that the organisers should bear the cost of hosting the contingent. However, participating nations can send extra officials at their own expense.
While the ministry is against sending the 'extra' officials on the taxpayer's money, IOA chief Narinder Batra claimed that the respective National Sports Federations would bear the costs. The IOA had sent the ministry a list of 222 athletes, 74 support staff and 21 extra officials.
At the Indian contingent's sending-off ceremony on Thursday, Batra had slammed the sports ministry for not clearing the 21 officials to travel to Gold Coast.
"I don't know why the sports ministry is raising these unnecessary issues. We called these as extra officials but in fact, these are not extra officials. These days in every sport you don't need only the coaches but you need managers, doctors, physios and masseurs. They contribute to the good performance of the players," Batra said.
According to The Indian Express, the officials who have been denied clearance also include shooter Heena Sidhu's coach and husband Raunak Pandit as well as coach Jaspal Rana. While Pandit is the observer for rifle and pistol events, Rana has been one of the main reasons for the emergence of India's next generation of shooters.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) chief Raninder Singh also came in support of Sidhu, saying in a tweet, "The NRAI is clearly willing to pay for our observer, who is an integral part of our team. It’s almost as if we have to fight more here than there! .The issue shall be accreditation. I am willing to opt out as I think to have him."
The Indian Express report further states that IOA's chief medical officer Arun Mendiratta has been denied clearance due to his criticism of the country's anti-doping practices. Mendiratta had reportedly stated that the anti-doping kits used by NADA at the Asian Athletics Championships were not tamper-proof, something which the body has denied.
The IOA's list also includes the parents of badminton players Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. Saina's father Harvir Singh and Sindhu's mother Vijaya Pursala are reportedly on the IOA's list. However, Harvir Singh and Sindhu's father PV Ramana refuted claims that their travel costs will be borne by the government. Both Singh and Ramana stated that they have always travelled on their own money and have never relied on the government or the Badminton Association of India to fund their costs.
A final decision on the fate of the 21 individuals will be taken on Friday by sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who returned from a two-day official trip to Bengaluru and it is to be seen whether Rathore will go against the wishes of his ministry.
Jumpers await future
While it awaits the ministry's decision on the officials, the IOA is hopeful that long jumper S Sreeshankar and high jumper Siddharth Yadav will make it to the squad for the Commonwealth Games after they were not in the original list sent to the Gold Coast organisers.
The jumpers earned their Commonwealth Games qualification on 8 March — one day after the final list of athletics participants was sent to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, according to IOA secretary Rajeev Mehta.
The Federation Cup of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) ran from 5 to 8 March in Patiala, Punjab, while the provisional list was sent in December 2017.
"We are deliberating with the Gold Coast organising committee regarding this issue. We are trying our best and we are hopeful that they (jumpers) will be allowed," Mehta said.
Mehta added that trials in other countries took place in as early as February to avoid the paperwork delay.
With inputs from IANS
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Updated Date: Mar 23, 2018 19:50:14 IST