Pune: Every multisport game bring on oft-recurring drama just a few days before the departure of squad, and this Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games are no different.
Be it the non-inclusion of some ‘deserving’ sports-persons or coaches, it finally comes down to the support staff and then there are free-loaders under the guise of administrative officials—but under the leadership of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore the Sports Ministry has tightened its belts to see that no undeserving person flies out to Indonesia for the August 18 to September 2 Asian Games.
As the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) gets ready to give a grand send-off ceremony to the Jakarta Palembang-bound squad on Friday August 10, there is an unfinished business of trimming the Indian squad.
The contingent has now swelled to 830 including support staff, from the 541 originally declared athletes who have been duly registered by the Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee.
The addition of 213 names of support staff, officials and the IOA administrative staff is causing major headache for the Sports Ministry, but with a firm hand in charge one could expect some bold decisions in the coming days.
There was no dearth of sports-persons who took the road leading to courts to prove that their exclusion from the contingent was unwarranted, rather biased.
Several courts across the country admitted such pleas and gave favourable orders adding to the burden on the IOA and the national sports federations. Whether the pleas were justified or not should be left to the sports enthusiasts to decide, once the Games are over, but such forced inclusions do create administrative hassles here and for the organisers to—which the honourable courts hardly take into consideration while passing judgments.
It all started with handball when both men and women teams were excluded from the list of contingent before the Handball Federation of India approached Allahabad High Court, which directed the IOA to get the team on board.
Sadly though, more than deserving Indian football team was first included and then dropped with the IOA citing that they did not fulfill the qualification criteria. The national governing body, AIFF, left it at that.
But there were individuals from other disciplines who approached courts and got favourable judgments. From Kabaddi to Kurash, a form of martial art and dragon boat sailors which swelled the total number of contingent forcing the IOA to toe the court’s line.
Still it remains to be seen whether the Indonesian organisers would be able to accommodate all these eleventh hour entries as such requests are generally taken with a pinch of salt.
Moreover, this kind of tinkering and additions though unavoidable could be handled by having clear-cut qualification system for the Asian Games like for the Olympic Games, wherein there is no ambiguity.
The IOA has created a big hurdle for its own staff picked for the Asian Games by selecting the infamous Raj Kumar Sacheti as the Deputy Chef-de-Mission of the Indian Contingent.
Sacheti, who is the Executive Director of the Boxing Federation of India, and also an associate Joint Secretary of the IOA, is more known for his involvement in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games scandal.
His tainted past and the alleged irregularities committed during his tenure as the Joint Director General of the 2010 Delhi CWG Organising Committee, was investigated by the CBI.
Without doubt his name is at the top of the list of the Sports Ministry for deletion, but it remains to be seen whether he is shown the exit door.
Only two days remain for the team to fly out and 9 days for the Games to begin in Jakarta—hosting the Games for second time after 1962.