Indians eligible for Rio Paralympics after PCI ban lifted

Indian aspirants for Rio Paralympics are eligible to participate in the global event under the Indian flag after the International Paralympic Committee temporarily lifted the ban on the Paralympic Committee of India. The ban may be re-imposed after the event if the national body does not follow necessary reforms.

H. N. Girisha (right), who won a silver medal in the 2012 Paralympics, is unlikely to take part this time.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

In a huge relief to several Indian para-athletes who have qualified for Rio Paralympics, the world governing body International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced temporary lifting of suspension imposed on the national body last year so that Indians can take part under the tri-colour in the showpiece event.

IPC, on May 31, decided to lift the ban on the Paralympic Committee of India with the sole purpose of allowing para-athletes of the country to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games under the tri-colour. Till now, a record number of 20 Indian para-athletes have qualified for the Rio Paralympics to be held from September 7 to 18.

The ban will be lifted only upto the end of Paralympics and it can be re-imposed after that if the PCI fails to implement the reforms outlined by the world body. “IPC lifted the suspensions of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of India and Costa Rica on 31 May with the sole purpose of allowing Para athletes from the two countries to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games under their respective national flags,” the world body said.

“Both India and Costa Rica need to make major reforms and the IPC will continue to closely monitor the implementation and timeline of these changes. Both countries will not fully satisfy their IPC membership until the reforms we have outlined to them are completed in full,” Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said.

PCI Secretary J. Chandrasekhar told PTI that the world body is open to the possibility of the ban being re-imposed if India does not implement the reforms outlined by the world body. “From what the IPC wrote to us it is like temporary lifting of the suspension till the end of the Rio Paralympics. They told us to implement the reforms outlined by them by then and if we don’t do that, the suspension can be re-imposed,” he said from Bangalore.

“We are on our toes to implement the reforms and hoping that we will be able to complete what IPC wants by then so that we return to Paralympic fold permanently,” he added.

PCI was being suspended in April last year due to internal conflicts between different groups and persons which were undermining the development of Paralympic Movement in India.

However, following meetings in Bonn, Germany, in May with representatives from Sport Authority of India (SAI), Sports Ministry and PCI, the IPC lifted the suspension temporarily to allow the para-athletes to compete under the Indian flag at Rio Paralympics 2016.

As agreed by the PCI, SAI will continue to have the authority to administer the entry of athletes and team officials for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The PCI, in consultation with SAI, may nominate team officials, including a Chef de Mission, to manage the delegation during the Games.

IPC also decided to recognise the newly elected office bearers of the PCI so that work may begin to immediately implement reforms to its governance and management structure.

Highest number of Indian participants

According to Chandrasekhar, 20 para-athletes have so far qualified for Rio Games and their names have been confirmed by the IPC as they have crossed the ‘A’ qualification standard. “This is going to be the highest number of Indian participants in the Paralympics. But everything depends on the government as they will finally sanction how many will take part. As of now, a record number of 20 have qualified,” he said.

“We are expecting that at least 15 para-athletes will be cleared by the government and we will be happy with that. And, that will be the highest number of Indian para-athletes ever to take part in any Paralympics,” he said. In the 2012 London Paralympics, India had sent 10 para-athletes.

Chandrasekhar also said that the PCI is expecting a record number of medals this time. “We are expecting at least five medals this time,” he added.

Surprisingly, the name of 2012 London Paralympic Games silver medallist in high jump, H. N. Girisha, is missing from among the already qualified athletes and Chandrasekhar said he is unlikely to make it to the Games.

“Girisha is ranked fourth among Indians now in his event and the IPC has not confirmed his qualification. He is unlikely to take part in the Rio Paralympics. Women powerlifter Sakina Khatun’s name has also not been confirmed by the IPC but I feel she will get the nod later on,” Chandrasekhar.

The para-athletes already qualified:

Men: Devendra Jhajharia (Men’s Javelin F-47), Sundar Singh Gujjar (Men’s Javelin F-46/47), Sandeep Singh and Narender Ranbir (Men’s Javelin F-44), Rishi Kant Sharma (Men’s Javelin F-13), Virender (Men’s Javelin and Shot Put F-57), Amit Kumar Saroha (Men’s Discus Throw F-51), Sharad Kumar, Varun Singh Bhati and Mariappan (Men’s High Jump T-42), Arvind (Men’s Discus F-37), Suyash Jadhav (Men’s Swimming S-7), Rampal Chahar (Men’s High Jump F-47), Anandan Gunasekaran (Men’s 400m T-44), Ankur Dama (Men’s 1500 T-11), Naresh Kumar Sharma (Men’s shooting 50m Rifle Prone R-6), Farman Bhasha (Men’s Under-48 Powerlifitng), Sandeep Singh Mann (Men’s 400m T-47).

Women: Deepa Malik (Women’s Shot Put Put F-53), Karam Jyoti (Women’s Shot Put and Discus F-54).

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