Pune: Only a few days after giving its nod to football and handball teams to travel to Indonesia for the upcoming Asian Games, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta asserted on Monday that “tourists will not be allowed to be part of the contingent for the 2018 Jakarta Asiad.
A day after India’s football coach Stephen Constantine made an impassioned appeal to the Indian government to clear football team for the Asian Games, the IOA made a provisional announcement clearing football and handball.
“We have cleared them in principle not only because the coach demanded so, but because we can see Indian football has attained reasonable rankings both at the world and Asian levels,” Mehta told Sakal Times in an interview during his whistle-stop visit to the city.
“It’s good to see that Indian football is gaining in stature, but to send entry in team event it takes a lot of convincing as there are separate qualifying rules for both individual and team sports,” said Mehta.
IOA was flooded with demands for clearances after Indian contingent turned in exemplary performance at the Commonwealth Games. “We need to follow the rules because competition in Asian Games will be much tougher than what it was in Gold Coast,” Mehta pointed out demands from various other sports federations wanting to send teams to Jakarta. Stuck in the controversy was India’s Equestrian squad which IOA and the governing body, EFI, has not been able to agree to. Equestrian is difficult given that horses need enough time to acclimatise, while the Indian showjumpers and eventing riders were stuck after the outbreak of glanders diseasse in Delhi.
“There is no final decision yet on football too. We may send one participant in equestrian, but already the contingent has swelled to over 900 and convincing the Sports Ministry will be a humongous task,” said Mehta.
“One thing is sure that we at IOA are totally against sending tourists as part of the contingent,” Mehta said in an oblique reference to parents travelling as coaches.