New Delhi: The long wait for government clearance of the country's contingent at the upcoming Asian Games continued today with the sports ministry yet to get directions from the Prime Minister's Office, leading to India missing out on the scheduled Delegates Registration Meeting in Incheon.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had on Thursday sought PMO decision on the issue of the size of Indian contingent for the September 19-October 4 Asian Games on after Indian Olympic Association sent a list of 935 members -- 662 athletes (373 men and 289 women) and 273 coach/officials.
The ministry officials and Sports Authority of India have already made the recommendation for the list to be pruned down to around 700, smaller than the contingent size of the 2010 Asian Games in China where India had sent 626 athletes and more than 200 officials.
Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson told PTI that the PMO is yet to get back to the sports ministry on the matter.
"We have not got any word from the PMO. The file is still there at the PMO. We will wait for tomorrow," Thomson said.
The delay in the announcement of Asian Games contingent meant that India could not turn up for the crucial Delegation Registration Meeting with the Incheon Games Organising Committee scheduled for today.
Without the DRM, the accreditations of the Indian contingent will not be validated and no athlete will be able to enter the Games Village. The Indian Olympic Association has requested the Incheon Games organisers to re-schedule the DRM on September 11.
"It was an embarrassment for India. The DRM between Indian officials and Incheon organising committee was to be held today but since there was no government clearance, no Indian official could be there in Incheon," IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said.
"This morning, I got a call from an official from the
Incheon Games organising committee inquiring about the status of the DRM. I had to tell him we are yet to get government clearance. It's such an awkward position for us. Such a big country and also a sporting power in Asia like India missed out on the scheduled DRM while small small countries had done theirs," said Mehta.
"Without the DRM, the accreditations of the Indian contingent will not be validated and no athlete will be able to enter the Games Village. I have sent a request today to the Incheon Organising Committee to postpone the DRM on September 11. Let us see what the organising committee replies," he said.
Mehta said the delay in naming the contingent has damaged India's reputation while also demotivating the athletes.
"It's unprecedented this kind of delay has been happening. The NSFs are confused but helpless to do anything. The IOA and the NSFs have not been taken into confidence in all these happenings. Nobody in the government is taking responsibility and we don't know whom to speak to. This will surely demotivate the athletes."