CGF says it will explore possibility of Khatun’s inclusion

Khatun had threatened to commit suicide after she was not included in the Indian team for the upcoming CWG.

Sakina Khatun won a bronze in para-powerlifting in the women’s lightweight (up to 61kg) category in 2014 Commonwealth Games,   -  Sushanta Patronobish

The Commonwealth Games Federation today said that it will explore the possibility of a late call-up for Indian para-powerlifter Sakina Khatun after the Indian Olympic Association made a request to include her in the country’s team for the Gold Coast CWG.

Khatun, who won a bronze in para-powerlifting in the women’s lightweight (up to 61kg) category in 2014 Commonwealth Games, had threatened to commit suicide after she was not included in the Indian team for the upcoming CWG. She has also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention for her selection in the Indian team.

“The CGF has received a letter sent by the Secretary General of Indian Commonwealth Games Association (CGA), Mr. Rajeev Mehta, expressing concern over India’s athlete allocation in the sport of Para-Powerlifting at Gold Coast 2018; and more specifically, the omission of Indian female Para-Powerlifter, Ms. Sakina Khatun,” CGF CEO David Grevemberg said in a statement.

READ: IOA writes to CGF to include Khatun in India’s CWG squad

“...the CGF and IPC only received the names of four male athletes for consideration in Men’s Para-Powerlifting competition. The CGF did not receive any female Para- Powerlifting nominations from Indian CGA, nor did CGF receive any queries or concerns from Indian CGA at the time that we communicated the names of the four male Indian athletes we had determined were eligible for the Games,” the statement said.

Mehta, however, said that the Paralympic Committee of India had given the IOA only the names of four men’s para- powerlifters and not of any female para-powerlifter. “It’s the fault of Paralympic Committee of India. The PCI gave us names of four male para-powerlifters only and not of any female para-powerlifter. January 22 was the deadline to send the entries but till then the PCI did not give us any female para-powerlifter’s entry. Only on February 7, they gave us a letter to try and request the CGF for Ms. Khatun’s inclusion which we did promptly,” Mehta told PTI.

“PCI is not under our supervision, it is not an affiliated member of the IOA. PCI is in fact a separate and parallel body to IOA, meant for para-athletes. They are under International Paralympic Committee and so whoever the PCI nominated, we just sent it to the CGF. We have no other role,” he added.

In fact, on December 1 last year, the PCI Secretary General J Chandrashekar sent to IOA a list of 11 para-athletes for accreditation. The list has the names of only four male para-powerlifters. The four are Sachin Chaudhry, Jaideep, Farman Basha and Ashok.

The rest of the 11 are four swimmers and three from athletics. “Whatever happened was beyond our control. We did what we were supposed to do. We sent the entries given to us by the PCI with which we have no dealings otherwise. Still, we are hoping that Ms Khatun is included in the Indian team and we are ready to give any kind of help,” Mehta said.

The CGF, nonetheless, said that the IOA failed to nominate any athletes for the women’s Para-Powerlifting competition. “For absolute clarification, the Indian CGA did not follow due process as outlined in the CGF Para-Powerlifting Athlete Allocation System, as it failed to nominate any athletes for the Women’s Para-Powerlifting competition at Gold Coast 2018, including Ms. Khatun,” the CGF said.

“The CGF has noted the Indian CGA’s administrative error.

However, acknowledging the well-being of Khatun, and the Federation’s commitment to the development of Para-Sport and gender equality, the CGF will review the Indian CGA’s late request for a reallocation slot, should an opportunity to grant an additional slot become available.”

Grevemberg said under the CGF Para-Powerlifting Athlete Allocation System for Gold Coast 2018, a CGA (the IOA in this case) is required to nominate those athletes they wish to be considered for the Games.

“In coordination with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the CGF reviews the nominations against pre- determined qualification criteria, and subsequently determines which of those athletes are eligible for the Games. The CGA is then required to accept the athlete places within a required time-frame.”

Regarding Khatun’s threat to commit suicide if she is not included in the Indian team, the CGF said, “As it relates to the severity of Khatun public response to her non-selection by CGA India, and her alleged position to conduct self-harm if the matter is not addressed, the CGF has requested written clarification from the Indian CGA and the Indian National Paralympic Committee regarding the steps both organisations have taken to support the welfare of the athlete.”

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