Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has replaced all the four deputy chefs de mission for the Hangzhou Asian Games appointed by the previous dispensation led by Narinder Batra.
However, Wushu Association of India chief Bhupender Singh Bajwa, who was appointed chef de mission for the Games in January 2022 by Batra, has been retained.
Batra had appointed Ajay Kumar Singhania (secretary-general, Badminton Association of India), Swapna Banerjee (president, Bengal Olympic Association), Gurudatta Bhakta (secretary-general, Goa Olympic Association) and Hariom Kaushik (executive board member, Netball Federation of India) as deputy chefs de mission.
But the Hangzhou Asian Games, earlier scheduled in September 2022, got postponed by a year because of a surge in Covid-19 cases in China and the IOA too saw new office-bearers under legendary Indian sprinter PT Usha taking charge of the National Olympic Committee in December last year.
The new deputy chefs de mission appointed for the Games, scheduled to commence on September 23, are Ravinder Chaudhary (secretary-general, Athletics Federation of India), Commonwealth Games gold-medallist archer Dola Banerjee, MM Somaya (former hockey player) and Purukottam Ramachandran (former sprinter and member of the 4x400m relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics).
Batra told PTI on Wednesday that the new IOA dispensation has every right to make changes.
“They (the new IOA officials) are the people in position. They are the better people to decide, who needs to go and who need not go. They have every right to do that, there is no problem in that,” said Batra, who is also the former international hockey federation (FIH) and Hockey India president.
The chef de mission and deputy chefs de mission are responsible for the planning, logistics and communication, among other things to ensure the coaches, managers and athletes can easily navigate the Games environment.
India is sending a huge 634 member contingent of athletes for the continental games.
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