LISTEN: Full script of Episosde 149 of Spodcast where we discuss IOC's decision to suspend India as future hosts, ISL results and more

  • IOC announced its decision to revoke two Olympic quotas for the men's 25m rapid fire pistol event at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in New Delhi

  • Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly spoke their minds yesterday over India's approach to cricketing relations with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.

  • All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the ODI and T20I home series against Australia due to lower back stiffness.

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

International Olympic Committee revokes only two Olympic quotas from ISSF Shooting World Cup

In a statement, the IOC announced its decision to revoke two Olympic quotas for the men's 25m rapid fire pistol event at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in New Delhi after two Pakistani athletes were denied visas to take part in the event. The Indian government had denied visas to the Pakistani contingent after the Pulwama attack.

The IOC has also decided to suspend all discussions with India regarding hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.

Pakistan had applied for visas for two shooters, GM Bashir and Khalil Ahmed, in the 25m rapid-fire pistol event and an accompanying official but was turned down by the Indian government in the wake of the terror attack.

ISSF president Vladimir Lisin said at the event's opening ceremony, "We follow the Olympic charter which says no athlete can be discriminated against. Due to this situation, the Olympic quota spots may be redistributed to another world cup."

NRAI president Raninder Singh said, "It is an unfortunate and unprecedented scenario, but our hearts go out to the families of the Pulwama victims. There was no mal-intent from NRAI or government to deny anyone anything. But unfortunately, this incident (Pulwama terror attack) happened." Speaking about the quota places, Singh said, "We still do not know what is going to be the concrete position of the Olympic Committee through the ISSF and the Government of India on this matter. The president of the ISSF is in discussion with the Olympic Committee and the department of sports and the department of international relations. However, the ISSF President used the word 'may', which means there is still some room. We will get a clearer picture in some hours."

India has accused their neighbour of not doing enough to control the militant groups responsible for the Kashmir attacks. Pakistan has denied any involvement.

The IOC said the refusal of visas for competitors went against the principles of the Olympic charter relating to discrimination and political interference from the host country.

"Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute ... efforts ... and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete," the IOC statement said.

"As a result, the IOC Executive Board also decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India," it said.

The Supreme Court of India has appointed retired Justice DK Jain as the ombudsman for the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The is a step forward towards clearing the many issues that the BCCI finds itself involved in, including a final decision on the Hardik Pandya-KL Rahul controversy.

A two-judge bench of the court, comprising Justices SA Bobde and Abhay Manohar Sapre, said Jain has been appointed after his name was accepted by "all the parties". In a related decision, the court appointed Lt. Gen. Ravi Thodge as the third member of the Committee of Administrators that runs the BCCI. He will join Chairman Vinod Rai and former women's captain Diana Edulji on the panel that effectively runs the cricket board. Thodge is expected to attend Friday's CoA meeting in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court also admonished the present CoA members for washing their dirty linen in public. It asked CoA's advocate, "We have heard in newspaper reports that some sparring is going on between CoA members. We want to know is it correct?", and then remarked, "We have thought to tell the amicus curiae to inform them (CoA members) that whosoever is involved, they should not bring it in public domain. It should not come in public domain."

Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly spoke their minds yesterday over India's approach to cricketing relations with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.

While Gavaskar said it is India that stands to lose by boycotting Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup, adding that India can continue to "hurt them" by shunning bilateral ties.

This in contrast with ex-players like Harbhajan Singh and Chetan Chauhan who asked that India avoid playing Pakistan entirely. Explaining his stance, Gavaskar said, "Who wins if India decide against playing Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even talking about the semis and the finals. Who wins? Pakistan win because they get two points. India have so far beaten Pakistan every time in a World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points when by beating Pakistan, we could make sure that they don't advance in the competition. (But) I am with the country, whatever the government decides, I am with it totally. If the country wants we shouldn't play Pakistan, I am with them."

He added, "Where does it hurt Pakistan? It hurts them when they don't play a bilateral series against India. In a multi-team event, India will lose by not playing them. The entire matter needs to be looked at with a little more depth, I can understand emotions are running high. But what happens when you don't play them? I know India are strong enough side to qualify even after conceding those two points but why not beat them and make sure they don't qualify?" Bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan have been suspended since 2012, and the teams last played a full series in 2007.

Gavaskar also implored Pak PM Imran Khan to take the necessary "first step" towards improving ties with India. He said, "He (Imran Khan) has spent a lot of time in the country. He knows the Indian people better than any other Pakistan and I do believe that he is capable of taking these steps...Let me say to Imran 'when you took over, you said that it is going to be a new Pakistan'...You ensure there is no cross-border infiltration, you ensure that those in Pakistan who are creating problems in India are handed over, if not to India, then to the UN. You take those two steps and you see the number of friendly steps India will take."

On the other hand, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly said India must sever all sporting ties with Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead. Ganguly was in agreement with former teammate Harbhajan Singh as he said, "...whatever reactions came from the people of India...was right. There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident. I agree that after this attack, India should not only stop playing cricket, hockey or football with Pakistan but should cut all ties with them." About the World Cup, the always outspoken Ganguly said, "(It) is a 10-team World Cup and each team plays matches against every other team and I feel if India doesn't play a match in the World Cup, it won't be an issue...I feel it will be really difficult for ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But you also have to see if India has the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing...personally, I feel a strong message should be sent."

Nine more athletes were found to be in violation of age-related stipulations at the 16th National Youth Championships. Three athletes in boys hammer throw, three in boys 2000m steeplechase, two in the boys pole vault and one in heptathlon were found to be over-aged in the age verification tests on the third and final day of the event.

With this development, the total number of over-age athletes from the championships reached a whopping 50. The national championships serve as selection trials for next month's Asian Youth Championships in Hong Kong.

In the previous two days, 41 athletes, including promising Delhi sprinter Nisar Ahmed, were found over-age. Athletics Federation of India Competition Manager and secretary of the championships, Nitin Arya said, "We will recommend a two-year ban of these over-age athletes to the Age Verification Committee. This is the first time the AFI is doing these verifications in a large scale at this level. Very few national federations do these kinds of initiatives. The AFI wants to weed out this menace."

All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the ODI and T20I home series against Australia due to lower back stiffness. Pandya suffered a severe back injury during an Asia Cup match in 2018 and missed the remainder of the tournament. He also missed the Test tour of Australia due to that injury. Later, he was embroiled in a sexism controversy and was suspended from the Australia ODI and T20I series by the cricket board's CoA. His suspension was lifted in late January, after which he flew to New Zealand to take part in the limited-overs tour where he did fairly well with both bat and ball.

There was no indication from the BCCI how long Pandya would be out due to the injury. It said, "The BCCI Medical team decided to rest the all-rounder and let him undergo strength and conditioning work for his lower back at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. Mr. Pandya will begin his strength work from next week." Pandya's loss is Ravindra Jadeja's gain. Jadeja named as Pandya's replacement by the board. Its statement said, "The T20I squad will now consist of 14 members. Mr. Ravindra Jadeja has been named replacement for Hardik Pandya for the 5 ODIs."

The India-Australia T20I series begins on 24 February and the ODI series will start on 2 March. Soon after that, the IPL starts on 23 March.

An ISL update now. Bengaluru FC sealed their place at the top of the points table with a stunning 3-0 win over FC Goa on Thursday.

The first half was all even after a few scoring opportunities were thwarted by the defences of both teams. However, Bengaluru suffered a setback just before the break - full-back Nishu Kumar received his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving the hosts with just 10 men. But that proved only a minor hiccup as Bengaluru scored three goals. Five minutes into the second half, Xisco Hernandez delivered an excellent cross into the centre of the box and the ball fell to Juanan. He chested the ball and lashed a volley into the top corner, making it 1-0. Just eight minutes later, Dimas gained possession of the ball in midfield and played Udanta Singh behind the defence with a through-ball. Singh raced into the box and, with just the goalkeeper to beat, finished with aplomb to make it 2-0. Eleven minutes later, Dimas found Miku in space at the edge of the box. The Venezuelan beat the Goa goalkeeper with a terrific long-range strike to score his first ISL goal after a long injury lay-off. That made it 3-0 for Bengaluru, who put an end to their two-match losing streak.

Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 14:27:51 IST