Doubts over Asian Championship in Ranchi

The inaction of the Jharkhand government, which had agreed to host Asia’s prestigious meet with support from the Athletics Federation of India and the Jharkhand Athletics Association (JAA) from June 1 to 4, has put the Ranchi event in doubt.

The Asian Athletics Championship in Ranchi is just a little over three months away but clouds of doubt are floating over the event now.

The inaction of the Jharkhand government, which had agreed to host Asia’s prestigious meet with support from the Athletics Federation of India and the Jharkhand Athletics Association (JAA) from June 1 to 4, has put the Ranchi event in doubt.

“The State government’s new Secretary-Sports, who joined in September, and the new Director-Sports, who came in a few months before that, are least interested in the event. They have done nothing,” Madhu Kant Pathak, the president of the Jharkhand Athletics Association, told Sportstar from Ranchi on Wednesday.

“We don’t have any problem with the stadium, there is no worry over equipment or with accommodation. But if the government’s Sports Secretary does not want to do anything, how do we go ahead with everything.”

Finance, however, is not an issue.

“Some Rs 10.8 crore was the budget and with overlay expenditure and city beautification, it will come to around Rs 13 to 14 crore. But money is not a constraint for the government and that too, it’s just 10 to 12 crore,” said Pathak.

“And it was approved at the Chief Minister-level. Now the government was supposed to constitute the organising committee, it has not done that yet. For the 2011 National Games in Jharkhand, the organising committee was formed a year in advance.”

The AFI has been kept updated about the developments, revealed Pathak.

“We have already informed the AFI everything, on a day-by-day basis. We have an AFI executive committee meeting on February 25 in New Delhi and one of the items on the agenda is the Asian Championship. So, we will be discussing this,” he said.

“Now, I am trying to get an appointment for Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, with the Chief Minister (Raghubar Das). Some pressure from the top level, from Delhi or the Sports Ministry, has to come to have the event in Jharkhand itself. I think Adille might meet the CM by the end of this month.

“The other option is to shift the venue.”

Meanwhile Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, said that he would get a report about the progress in Ranchi during the AFI’s executive council meeting in New Delhi on February 25.

“I can’t see any reason why Jharkhand cannot host it. They were the ones who came forward to host the event, they came to us they were the first to put up the bid money of $25,000, we never went to them,” said Sumariwalla on Wednesday evening.

“And a technical team from the Asian Athletics Association went to Ranchi and inspected the stadium and other things. So, if there is an issue, let them give us a full report on the progress of everything during our meeting next weekend.”

Other options

And in case Jharkhand is unable to host the championship, he said there were plenty of options available.

“What happened during the 2013 Asian Championship when Jayalalithaa (the then TN CM) said that we cannot have Sri Lankan athletes in the meet? We moved the championship from Chennai to Pune in a matter of three weeks. This time, we have enough time, we will move it wherever we want to. And there are plenty of cities available now, we can do it in Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai or New Delhi. So, there is no worry, if they don’t want it in Jharkhand.

“But how can we put the cart before the horse, so let us wait for the full report from Jharkhand.”