Boxing tourney becomes embarrassment for Pak govt

Islamabad: An international boxing tournament organised in memory of late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has turned into an embarrassment for the country after participating teams complained about the facilities while the Federation blamed it on lack of financial support from the government.

The second Benazir Bhutto Shaheed International Tournament at the Liaquat Gymnasium in the capital turned into a farce after the PBF, apparently short on funds, decided to shift the players and officials of around 15 participating teams from the luxurious Marriot Hotel to the shabbier hostel of the Pakistan Sports Board Complex.

The sudden move justified by the PBF as being due to security reasons has led to visiting officials and players complaining that the organisers had reneged on commitments made to them about providing five-star accommodation and training facilities.

India has also sent a 12-member delegation for the tournament, which was first held successfully last year in Karachi drawing appreciating for the PBF.

"How can they do this? This sudden shift to the hostel where there is lack of facilities has upset our preparations and our boxers," Sri Lankan manager Wasantha said.

Similarly, officials from the Slovenia and Singapore teams also had similar complaints pointing out they came to Pakistan after spending considerable funds but found conditions unfit for an international event.

Complaints have ranged from unfit drinking water to three players being forced to share a room at the hostel.

But the PBF President Doda Khan Bhutto was adamant that they were doing their best to provide the best facilities to the participating teams despite financial constraints.

"If they have financial constraints that is their problem they should have thought about it before planning this event," a Slovakian team official said.

Bhutto said the organisers were facing problems since the government had not released promised funds. Bhutto said the tournament was not being taken as important by the government and that was discouraging for the PBF.

"Whenever anyone does anything for Pakistan sports, he never gets appreciated," Bhutto told a leading daily.

"I`m highly disappointed and hurt by such a reaction from the government. This event has not created excitement and it`s the fault of the media and the government. No one cares about the betterment of Pakistan sports," he said.

Bhutto was also quick in dismissing suggestions that arrangements made for the players were poor.

"Anyone who claims that food and water are not of good quality can come and check. We`re providing mineral water and top-class food. We cannot prepare food like they have in their homes but I assure you that they`re having the best. All we receive is criticism instead of support."

The PBF has also faced embarrassing questions over their announcements that former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson and British boxer, Amir Khan will attend the tournament.

"Tyson didn`t respond back to us despite several emails while Amir will be here for the closing ceremony," Bhutto said.

A total of 16 bouts took place on the opening day on Friday with Pakistani boxers winning five of their ten bouts while Indian Manjeet Singh suffered a defeat in the heavyweight category.

A total of 16 teams are participating in the tournament including India, Iran, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Central Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Syria, Slovenia, and Singapore.


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