CHENNAI: Intense lobbying from Russia’s richest man has not been able to save shooting at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Even though the Birmingham 2022 organisers had decided to cull shooting in 2017, Vladimir Lisin, who is the ISSF head, travelled to Birmingham in December 2018 to try to save shooting. But his pleas have fallen on deaf ears as the Commonwealth Games Federation, after an executive board meeting on Thursday, announced that they had endorsed the recommendations put forth by the Birmingham 2022 delegation — meaning women’s cricket will make a debut appearance (only the men competed for medals in Kuala Lumpur in 1998).
It’s in shooting that India will feel the pinch. After Birmingham took a stance to exclude shooting a day after it was awarded the rights to host the Games, the who’s who of India’s shooting fraternity lobbied to get it back. Former sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh wrote a letter urging the organisers to not drop it. The most extreme reaction was put forth by National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, who said India should boycott the Games if shooting wasn’t reinstated. One look at the medals table in the 21st century says. Out of the 131 gold won by Indians, 55 were in shooting, almost 42 per cent. They have always fifth or above in the last five editions. Without shooting’s medals, India could tumble down the table.
Multiple CWC gold medallist Gagan Narang wasn’t too pleased. “It’s unfortunate for Indian shooters because this is a big platform,” he said. “Shooters take the competition very seriously. And it’s one of those disciplines which we dominate, so it will be a setback. We should ensure that this doesn’t happen in future CWGs.”
Randhir Singh, former secretary general of the IOA and an IOC member, spoke from the same hymn sheet. “It’s a high-profile Olympic sport. They shouldn’t be tinkering with such sports that are popular and offer so many medals.”
While the organisers have recommended the inclusion of three optional sports (women’s T20, beach volleyball and para table tennis), this will still have one more layer to get cleared. “Although the CGF Executive Board has approved the recommendations, they must now seek the agreement of all 71 members because, if accepted, these additions would mean that Birmingham 2022 would exceed the CGF’s agreed limit for the number of athletes taking part in optional sports and would also mean the inclusion of six team sports (...) as opposed to CGF’s current limit of four,” a CGF statement said. This will take place next month.
ICC, ECB welcome nomination
“The International Cricket Council (ICC) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), welcome the decision by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to nominate women’s cricket for inclusion at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022,” the ICC said.