Asian Games: Slighted NSFs peeved, Dipa distraught, no women's team in e-sports

Sports ministry on Friday approved the names of 634 athletes out of 850 for the quadrennial event in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8. 

Published: 26th August 2023 12:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2023 01:03 AM   |  A+A-

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar: Achievements -  First Indian female gymnast to win a medal at Commonwealth Games -  Finished fourth in Women's Vault Gymnastics event at 2016 Rio Olympics

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar. (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Finally, after a long delay, the sports ministry has approved the names of 634 athletes for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8. There was suspense among National Sports Federations (NSFs) on who would be omitted and included in the final list from the 850 odd names (440 male and 410 female) that were sent. However, after the inclusion of football, which did not meet the criteria set by the sports ministry, most federations were expecting to get the nod. If 30 per cent support staff and other officials of the Indian Olympic Association are counted then the total number could be above 900.

The one athlete who is distraught and shattered is gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who until now was harbouring some hope of boarding a flight to Hangzhou. Her coach Bishweshwar Nandi too was peeved with the decision to omit her despite topping the trials conducted by the gymnastics federation. “Dipa is heartbroken,” he told this daily, adding though they knew her name was not considered, they hoped that it would be included at the last moment. 

“This is the first time I am seeing that a team is being selected on the basis of past performance. Even as a coach and earlier as a player we always selected athletes based on current performance and form. But this time it was based on past performances. This is not good for Indian gymnastics and will take the sport backward. The men’s team could have been considered.” Only one gymnast has been cleared.

“If Dipa would not have topped the trials I would have never spoken for her. She is in good nick and would have done well,” said the Dronacharya Award recipient. “I must congratulate Pranati (Nayak) who qualified and hope she does well. But more players should have been considered in gymnastics.”It's not only the gymnastics fraternity, which is not happy. A few other federations too are distraught and are mulling to move the court. It is learnt that athletes from kurash, kayaking and canoeing may take the legal recourse.

While some federations have been striving for gender equality, one discipline that will have zero Indian women at the Asian Games is esports (15 men). While Lokesh Suji, director Esports Federation of India (ESFI), wants to change the skewed nature of the participation rates, he said 'not a single woman registered' when the national qualifiers were on to pick the Asian Games squad last year. Esports, unlike most other disciplines, is an ideal environment to have mixed teams as competition isn't based on gender. "When we had the nationals, no woman came forward to register for the meets," Suji told this daily. "They didn't even come forward to take part in single-player games."

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