Will explore diplomatic channels to get shooting back in Commonwealth Games, says Sports Minister Rijiju

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju promised to explore diplomatic channels to have shooting included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Kiren Rijiju poses with athletes during his visit of the National Institute of Sports in Patiala on Saturday.   -  Special Arrangement

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday that the government would not be able to interfere, but promised to explore diplomatic channels to have shooting included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Rijiju, who visited the National Institute of Sports here, said he was aware that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is considering withdrawing from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) because it left out shooting from its programme.

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Rijiju’s predecessor, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, had in fact written to his British counterpart and the CGF president last year as well, urging them to intervene and ensure that the sport remains a part of the 2022 edition.

The CGF, however, had left it to the host nation, in this case England, to decide the fate of shooting, which has always been an optional sport.

“I know about this pull threat by IOA. But we can’t interfere much. But (since it is) a sport where India have (a) good chance win medals, we will try and take diplomatic steps to have shooting included,” said Rijiju.

The decision to leave out shooting was a big blow to India as it won 16 medals out of 66 in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the IOA said that pulling out of the Games altogether cannot be ruled out.

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“Shooting is a big sport in India and for many shooters CWG is a stepping stone to Olympics two years later. It is a big setback for shooting as well as Indian sport as a whole. We have made representations to the CGF, and the government has also done that but still shooting has been left out,” IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta had said recently.

Last year, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh had called for India to boycott the Birmingham Games if shooting sport was not included in the roster.

Meanwhile, after inspecting the facilities at the NIS, Rijiju said the government was planning to relay the synthetic track here. He also said the government was exploring the possibility of tie-ups with corporate houses to absorb national and international players so that they do not have to worry about their livelihood while playing for the country.