CHENNAI: More than a few federations are still waiting for the sports ministry to reimburse them for expenses incurred during the Asian Games.
The bodies not affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had to spend out of their own pockets to give their athletes ceremonial attire and playing kit for the quadrennial bash. After this newspaper reported the IOA may not foot the bill for athletes of federations not affiliated with them, the sports ministry responded to say that they would take care of all costs.
“NO team participating in #AsianGames2018 will have to bear the expenses of kit and uniform by themselves,” sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had tweeted on July 31, three weeks before the start of the Games in Indonesia. “I have directed @IndiaSports @Media_SAI to issue kits and apparel to EVERY team representing India.” It’s been more than five months since, but none of the federations are yet to get their money back.
Multiple reasons are behind why nine federations are yet to get back a dime. For starters, five of the nine are yet to submit their bills to the ministry.
“SAI has not received bills from five of the nine federations namely kurash, soft tennis, roller skating, karate and sport climbing,” SAI DG Neelam Kapur confirmed. They have the receipts of ten-pin bowling, sepak takraw, pencak silat and bridge. “These bills are being examined and the process of disbursement of fund is expected to be completed soon.”
The delay in reimbursing the cost incurred by the federations is because the SAI is waiting for an IOA green light vis-a-vis ratification of bills. “SAI has also written to the Indian Olympic Association to confirm the cost of kits, as mentioned in the bills sent by the federations, since these were procured by IOA. SAI is awaiting the reply from IOA,” Kapur added.
Two sources pertaining to bridge and pencak silat federations, who spoke on the matter to this newspaper, wondered why it was taking so long when Rathore had initially promised to instruct the sports ministry to distribute kits and apparel to every team that was representing the country at the Games.
“We have submitted all our bills and have been waiting for the reimbursement,” a bridge source said.“We spent close to Rs 7 lakh. They have told us that we will get the money before the end of this financial year... so we are hopeful.”
Curiously enough, a pencak silat official claimed that a sports ministry official had informed them they will distribute the funds owed to them after all the nine federations had submitted bills. “(...) SAI waiting for all federations to submit their bills before processing it together for payment of dues.”
Apart from the nine unaffiliated federations, the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI), which has an IOA affiliation, too had to spend out of its own pocket. Most of the Rs 2.5 crore that EFI spent pertained to transportation charges of horses to Jakarta but SAI said they had forwarded their bills to IOA.
“This matter pertains to the IOA and not SAI. The bill from the federation was sent to IOA,” Kapur said. An EFI source said keeping the funds owed to them was no way to treat a federation whose athletes won two medals. “We spent roughly Rs 2.5 crore and we are yet to see a dime.”
Attempts to contact IOA went in vain. In all, close to 100 athletes from the unaffiliated federations represented India at the Games.