Birmingham 2022 and the shooting conundrum

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has gone to the extent of proposing an Indian boycott of the next Commonwealth Games.

The Indian medal winners of the shooting event at XXI Commonwealth Games pose with their medallions upon arrival in India.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

A lot of things have been spoken and written about the exclusion of shooting from the competition agenda of Birmingham 2022 over the last month and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has to the extent of proposing an Indian boycott of the next Commonwealth Games.

It will be interesting to see on how the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and other stakeholders, particularly the National Sports Federations react to such a proposal put forward by the NRAI, given the splendid performances of the athletes across disciplines at Gold Coast over the last fortnight.

Read: Bindra: Axing shooting from C’wealth Games ‘huge setback for India’

True, that the shooters were the ones who won the most of the medals for the country, accounting for 16 of the total 66 won and the exclusion of the sport will hamper the Indian showing four years from now. But all the noise created within the country is certain not to deliver any positive turnaround.

Speaking to the media at the fag end of the XXI Commonwealth Games on the preparations being made for the conduct of the next edition, the Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, and the Head of Sport, Birmingham City County, Steve Hollingworth was quite emphatic on their need to host a cost-effective Games.

“What we are looking forward to is a Games that will assimilate with the sporting culture of our region and a lasting legacy. Moreover, we are committed to host a cost effective Games without straying from our budget.”

Asked specifically on the exclusion of shooting from the competitions, they said, “To build from scratch a range that will have no legacy once the Games are over is something beyond us. We had looked at several options but nothing worked out in our favour and as shooting is only one of the optional disciplines prescribed by the Commonwealth Games Federation, we decided to give it a go by. We have had the support of the CGF in this matter and it is to be understood and the matter is sealed.”

The CGF on its part is also peeved at the manner in which the International Shooting Federation (ISSF) has ignored granting of due recognition to the Games. “It is a matter which we taken up with the ISSF several times, but to no avail,” commented the CGF CEO, David Grevemberg, when the issue was put to his notice.

“As a multi-discipline event, the Games has its own relevance in the world of sport today as it has been a stepping stone towards universal glory for shooters of six regions but the ISSF has conveniently acted against this spirit. But it is not the reason for the exclusion of the sport from Birmingham 2022. It is a decision which was taken by its organisers and we have supported it.”

Pointing out on how the shooting range costing over 18 million pounds was pulled down after the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mr. Grevemberg said, “It was a just decision as the range was not going to serve any other purpose. I personally believe that India can take the lead role in sorting out the issues between the ISSF and us and see to it that the sport is restored in future Games,” he said.