IOA slams CGF Asia Region officials

The Indian Olympic Association hits back at top officials of the Commonwealth Games Federation Asia Region for questioning president Narinder Batra’s right to call for the boycott of the Games in 2022.

Narinder Batra had called for the boycott of the Commonwealth Games in 2022, in light of the decision taken to exclude shooting.   -  PTI

The Indian Olympic Association has hit back at top officials of the Commonwealth Games Federation Asia Region for questioning Narinder Batra’s right to call for the boycott of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

The CGF Asia Region met at the sidelines of the CGF General Assembly in Rwanda on September 3. According to the minutes of the meeting, it was agreed that Batra, the IOA president, “cannot speak for [India]” when he proposed the Games’ boycott. The minutes of the meeting, which was attended by CGF chief Louise Martin and chief executive David Grevemberg, were sent to the IOA from the office of Chris Chan, the CGF Asia Region vice-president.

The minutes of the meeting, signed by Chan, said, “Asia expressed disappointment that India has questioned the relevance of the Commonwealth and took the stand they did, and said that the NOC/GCA president cannot speak for the country. Asia should stay cohesive as a group, India should have spoken to the region before taking a boycott decision.”

‘Unwarranted’

The IOA shot back a strongly-worded letter to Chan, condemning the statement of the CGF and terming it “unwarranted.”

In the letter, IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta wrote: “With reference to minutes of Asia Regional Meeting of Commonwealth Sport held on 3rd September 2019, the CGA/NOC India condemns the statement challenging the rights of our president. The recording of such a statement was unwarranted and we hope needful corrections would be made soon.”

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He added: “Although CGA/NOC India has been overlooked many times despite the fact that India is the only nation in Asia that has hosted the CWG in the last two decades, we have maintained a cordial relationship with the office of CGF and all member countries in the region.”

‘Anguish of a billion people’

According to Mehta, Batra has full powers to speak on behalf of Commonwealth sport in India. “It is supported by the Executive Council and General Body of CGA/NOC India. The president of CGA/NOC India, who is also president of International Hockey Federation (FIH) and member of International Olympic Committee (IOC), is a known international sports administrator. The recent communication with regard to exclusion of shooting from the sports programme of Birmingham 2011 was not essentially a reflection of our position on Commonwealth sport but it was the anguish of a billion people,” Mehta wrote.

In the meeting, Grevemberg had asked the Asia Region for help and support to engage with India so as to help India embrace CGF’s strategies. “Louise Martin and David Grevemberg updated that ISSF does not recognise Commonwealth Games as a ranking event for shooting and that the sport had the opportunity to be part of the Games with a smaller programme,” the minutes said.

“The CGF does not have a disciplinary process in place for India, and does not run shooting so ISSF must take responsibility. The cost of shooting competition held in Glasgow 2014 was GBP 22 million,” it said.

The IOA had in July, 2019, proposed boycott of the 2022 Games in Birmingham for dropping shooting from the roster, and sought the government’s approval. In its Executive Board meeting in June, the CGF had left out shooting from the Games while recommending the inclusion of three new sports. The decision to leave out shooting has dealt a big blow to India which had won as many as 16 medals out of 66 in the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

The sport has featured in every Commonwealth Games since 1966 with the exception of the 1970 edition (Edinburgh).

The CGF, however, had taken the position that it was the host nation’s prerogative to decide the fate of shooting, which has always been an optional sport in the Commonwealth Games.