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IOA and ministry in conflict over selection policy

Inclusion of athletes from Khelo India and bypassing national federations sore points

Published: 05th July 2018 03:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2018 03:45 AM   |  A+A-

Narinder Batra

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has refused to approve the selection process of athletes under the Khelo India Talent Development programme (KIDT), if the National Sports Federations (NSF) are not involved. In a letter to Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, Batra said the IOA will not approve if the selection panel of Khelo India did not have NSF representation.

“If the NSFs are not involved in the selection process, the athletes will find it hard to ease into the system and there might be a lack of transparency,” Batra argued. He also felt that because the federation and the SAI have their own programmes, it would be difficult to find a definite role or place for the Khelo India picks in the team. “This will be more difficult in team sport,” he said.

It is understood that some of the selected athletes under the KITD scheme will be accommodated in SAI regional centres and other private academies.

Until now, names have been announced in hockey, wrestling, shooting, gymnastics, kabaddi and weightlifting. If some top federation officials are to believed, there was no involvement of federation observers in the selection process. SAI had requested them to send officials for technical support only during the events. “It wasn’t for selections,” said a federation official. Though it’s a novel concept, implementation has to be done.

The NSFs are of the view that federation observers, who monitor and track the growth of athletes, know their progress which the KITD observers might lack, even though they are former Arjuna awardees or Olympians.

Another issue they feel that might arise out of this is selection of overage athletes. However, Bhatnagar has said that the selection was done combined by NSF and SAI selectors. “As far as I know, the NSF selectors have always been involved in selections. But it is better to check with the SAI officials for clarity,” he said. But when Express contacted SAI Director General, Neelam Kapoor, she was unwilling to comment on the matter.

Another contentious issue between IOA and the ministry was the official discussion on National Sports Code. Batra said through a mail that though such a discussion was mandated and even the ministry acknowledged it in an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, no such meeting took place. He also said if the ministry enforces any code on them without discussion, it would lead to friction with the International Olympic Committee. “It might violate our autonomy and this might lead to our suspension, like in 2012,” said Batra.

The IOA president, however, clarified that the ministry has agreed to meet the IOA delegation of secretary-general Rajeev Mehta, Lalit Bhanot, RK Anand and Gnaneshwar Pandey. “We were supposed to meet sports ministry officials, including sports secretary Bhatnagar on June 28. Mehta met with an accident before the meeting, so we had to postpone it. It will take place by mid-July, as some of us will not be available before that due to various engagements,” said Batra.
vimalsankar@newindianexpress.com



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