CHENNAI: A day after shooting’s proposal to join the 2022 CWG was summarily dismissed, the Indian Olympic Association’s secretary general said the option to boycott the Games shouldn’t be ruled out. However, the Commonwealth Games Federation has said now it’s not possible to include shooting.
When the 2022 Games was initially awarded to Birmingham, the local organisers decided to not include the sport in the programme for reasons pertaining to location and infrastructure. Since it was an optional sport, the organising committee had no obligation to include it. The shooting fraternity lobbied to get it back. But, after two days of meetings, the Commonwealth Games Federation’s executive board decided to stick with the original recommendation of the organisers to exclude shooting.
This has obviously evoked a reaction from the IOA. In a statement, the body’s secretary general, Rajeev Mehta, said the option of boycotting the Games shouldn’t be ruled out. “That cannot be ruled out. We can even go to that extent.” Mehta said the IOA will write to the CGF again in the coming days but that will not have the desired effect.
Shooting cannot be included even if the CGF wants it to be in the programme now. This much was confirmed to this newspaper by the body that runs the quadrennial competition. “Shooting cannot be bought back so the vote is just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on the (inclusion) of the three optional sports (recommended to us by the 2022 delegation),” a high-ranking CGF official told this daily.
Worse still, the CGF does have the power to sanction nations who boycott Games. “CGF would be able to do that (ban nations from taking part in next editions of CWG) but that would be a very extreme measure so unlikely there would be sanctions,” the official said. Even if the official qualified that statement by saying they would be willing to work with India to ensure they take part, Mehta seems adamant on not accepting the verdict.
“We know it is difficult now to overturn the CGF decision but all is not lost,” he said. “We have one month’s time. The IOA EC will take a decision within the next two weeks and we are not averse to taking a major decision.”
While IOA president Narinder Batra refused to comment now on the ruling, he had indicated that a boycott would be unacceptable last year. After National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) head Raninder Singh called for a total boycott of the Games in 2018, Batra had ruled out that scenario. “Sitting on this chair and sitting on that side makes a lot of difference,” he had told reporters then. “He (Raninder) is free to make a lot of statements. There are athletes, government and so many things related. I think it’s a bit too extreme.”