Assembly polls to affect preparations for National Games, says former Olympian Harbhajan Singh

Jamshedpur: Former Olympian Harbhajan Singh on Monday expressed apprehension that Assembly elections in Jharkhand, likely to be held by the end of this year, will affect preparations for the 35th National Games to be held in January next year in Kerala.

Singh, who had the distinction of representing India in two disciplines (Handball and Basketball) at international levels including the 1980 Moscow Olympics (Basketball) and is secretary of Jharkhand Basketball Association, said there was every possibility that the Model Code of Conduct would be in force in the next one month or so and the government would not be allowed to release funds to hold the preparatory camps.

"Four months time before big events is very crucial for preparation," Singh said.

Allaying apprehensions, S M Hashmi, secretary general of Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA), said preparatory camps for the National Games would be conducted soon to ensure Jharkhand excel in its performance and win medals.

"Letters have been sent to all state sports associations and federations on the budget required to conduct preparatory camps for the January games," he said.

Hashmi said Jharkhand had already qualified for events such as Archery, Boxing, Football (women), Hockey, Weightlifting, Handball and Athletics among others.

Expressing confidence that the state would increase its medal tally from the last edition when Jharkhand won altogether 96 medals including 33 gold in 2011, he said JOA would ensure that preparatory camps for the National Games start by September.

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