Where's the Olympic spirit: Ministry hits out at Hockey India for fielding second-string SAG team
Most established players of the Indian team are busy playing the Hockey India League which has coincided with the 12th South Asian Games.
New Delhi: The Sports Ministry on Friday slammed Hockey India for fielding a second string team in the ongoing South Asian Games, saying the players are busy making money and have forgotten the Olympic spirit.
Most established players of the Indian team are busy playing the Hockey India League (HIL) which has coincided with the 12th South Asian Games.
"The money angle has become so important that the athletes have forgotten the Olympic spirit. India and Pakistan are two top teams in the region, it is an emotional match for the public. It would have been good preparation for the top players (bound for the Rio Olympics)," sports secretary Rajiv Yadav told PTI today.
Asked if he plans to take any action against Hockey India: "We had requested Hockey India to field a strong team but that did not happen. It is not about taking action against the federation. We want federations to learn themselves rather than we instructing them. The Games are held in the Olympic spirit and it would have been good preparation for the boys going to Rio," Yadav said.
India have qualified for the Olympics but Pakistan have not. Pakistan had beaten India 2-1 in the league stage of the competition in Guwahati.
The South Asian Games are finally happening after a gap of six years and multiple delays. The event was supposed to take place in 2012 in New Delhi but was postponed due to Assembly elections in the national capital.
After that, the Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the International Olympic Committee between December 2012 and February 2014, leading to further delays.
After the IOA's suspension was revoked by the IOC, Kerala was tipped to host the Games but the event was handed to Guwahati and Shillong last year before another round of postponement.
"It was a huge challenge to organise the event, especially in places like Guwahati and Shillong. But all stakeholders have done a good job. The Games have been cost effective as well and have turned out to be cheaper than the National Games held in Kerala last year. The overall cost has come to Rs 308 crore," said Yadav.
The Kerala Games were organised at a cost of Rs 340 crore.