New Delhi: Sport and politics should not be mixed in an ideal world but in reality it can't happen in certain cases, feels champion shooter Abhinav Bindra amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of Uri terror attack.
"At the end of the day, it is the decision of the government. It takes the final call on whether a team can play (against Pakistan) and that call has to be respected," Bindra told PTI today.
So does he feel that politics and sport should be kept separate?
"It is a very difficult question. One would hope for that to happen (that sport and politics is not mixed). It is a nice thought it should be separated because that is the Olympic values as well that sport should be free from politics. But today, in reality, it doesn't happen sometimes. One has to take a call from situation to situation and the government's decision has to be respected," said India's only individual Olympic gold medallist.
The Indian government has stepped up its efforts to isolate Pakistan globally on all fronts post the Uri attack and it has also impacted the sporting ties between the two neighbours with the BCCI outrightly ruling out resumption of cricketing ties and Pakistan's Kabaddi team not taking part in the ongoing World Cup in Ahmedabad.
Bindra, here for the Franchise India Expo, also spoke about his life post Rio Olympics in August, when he ended his glorious career with a fourth place finish.
The 34-year-old has not touched the rifle since the 10m Air Rifle Final in August. He is busy trying to earn a living, as he often puts it these days, and is excited about his business venture of micro high performance centres across India.
The first centre, that helps athletes prepare for mental and physical aspect of their sport, was opened in Mohali earlier in the month.
Is he liking his post retirement life and does he intend to 'hobby shoot' once in a while?
"I was already a hobby shooter the last five years so no more of that. I am quite busy actually, trying to earn a living. I go to work every day, it is a different life but it is fine. I like it," said Bindra.
He has been openly critical about issues plaguing Indian sports. In a column analysing India's dismal performance in Rio, he had suggested drastic steps for the nation to become a sporting power.
Not much is known about how India plans to prepare for the future Summer Games other than the announcement of a task-force for the next three Olympics. Bindra is open to being part of the task-force though he is yet to be approached for the job.