New Delhi: Dropping shooting from 2022 Commonwealth Games will be a huge setback for India, especially for its young shooters, said the country's only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.
"No doubt, it will be a huge setback for the country and our shooters. It will hit hard on the up and coming shooters," Bindra said at the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony of India's Olympic medallists by the visiting International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach.
The event was organised by the Indian Olympic Association at a city hotel last night. "Shooting is an optional sport and they (Birmingham organisers) say they don't have the facilities to host shooting events. Had Durban (South Africa) hosted the 2022 CWG, shooting would have been there," he added.
Durban was to originally host the 2022 CWG but it later expressed its inability to host the Games due to financial problems. The Commonwealth Games Federation later awarded the 2022 CWG to Birmingham.
The Birmingham Organising Committee has decided to exclude shooting from the 2022 Games, citing logistical issues. India won a bagful of shooting medals at the Games. The shooting squad, at the recently concluded Gold Coast Games, bagged as many as 16 medals, seven of them gold.
Shooting, though an optional sport at the CWG, has been played in every edition since Kingston 1966, except once in Edinburgh in 1970. A few days back, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh had called for India's boycott of the 2022 CWG if shooting was not reinstated, but IOA president Narinder Batra yesterday termed it as going a "bit too extreme".
"Raninder is free to make his statements. There are a lot of things related to government. We will certainly pick up the issue of shooting not being there in the 2022 CWG but it does not start or end with not participating. A nation boycotting, I think he is going a bit too extreme," said Batra at a press conference in the presence of Bach.
Meanwhile, several yesteryear hockey stars who have won Olympic gold medals, including the legendary Balbir Singh senior, turned up for the felicitation ceremony. But most of the non-hockey Olympic medallists skipped the event.
Besides Bindra, current sports minister and 2004 Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also felicitated by Bach. 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh turned up for a brief period and left immediately after being felicitated by the IOC chief.