Indian gymnastics tied up in knots, no entry for Doha world champs

There will be no Indian participation in 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha owing to differences between the Gymnastics Federation of India and the Union Sports Ministry.

There will be no Indian representatives at the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha.   -  Getty Images

India is unrepresented in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships which started in Doha on Thursday. Blame it on differences between the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) and the Union Sports Ministry. For nearly eight years, a tussle between two factions has seen Indian gymnastics suffer.

According to a person close to the developments, even though the Sports Ministry withdrew recognition from both factions, the GFI continued to send entries to various international events on the strength of its affiliation with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

"The GFI sent nominative entries without trials well before the deadline of September 27. Since the government does not recognise the GFI, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) held selection trials on September 29.

"When they informed the GFI about the trials, the federation wrote back finding faults with the government and did not forward the names for the World Championships. The entries could have been modified by October 8," said the person, who declined to be named.

"The entries could have been sent even after the deadline by paying some late fees. Since the government questioned GFI's authority, the latter gave it back," the source added.

According to a sports ministry official, "We made every effort to include the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in the selection process but they refused despite many reminders. We wanted to ensure fair selection and didn't want the gymnasts to suffer. But the federation which is recognised by the international body didn't send the entries."

Despite attempts, GFI secretary Ranjeet Vasava could not be reached for comment.

In September, top gymnasts including Rakesh Kumar Patra felt that not taking part in the Doha competition would affect their preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"If we are not able to participate in the Doha world championship we would never know where we stand in the global ranking chart. We need to test ourselves against the best to understand where we need to improve ahead of the Olympics," PTI quoted Patra as saying.

"Next year there is the qualifying event (World Championships in Stuttgart) for 2020 Tokyo Games and if this issue continues it will affect our chances. It will affect India's reputation..." added Patra, who had finished fourth in the ring event at the FIG World Challenge Cup in Turkey in August.