Indian para-athlete team pay heavily for SAI officials blunder in Rio qualifiers

This is the last qualifying event for the Rio Olympics.

Indian para-athlete team pay heavily for SAI officials blunder in Rio qualifiers

New Delhi: Trouble continued for the Indian para-athlete team after the organisers in Dubai refused to entertain them after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) failed to forward their entries before the deadline.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, a 24-member Indian para-athlete team, who is in Dubai for the underwent this horrible experience. The para-athlete team earlier had to spend money from their pockets to participate in the event.

This is the last qualifying event for the Rio Olympics.

India's participation in the four-day event hangs in balance after the squad was not allowed in the qualification process on Tuesday. SAI need to sort out the issue on Wednesday and then only the athletes would be able to see themselves take part.

The tournament is starting on March 17, as the two-day qualification process started on March 15. The qualification committee is the body which approves the degree of disability of athletes and allocates them categories and therefore it allows them to take part.

A para-athlete said that they are all clueless and that they had earlier submitted all necessary documents with SAI during the trials in Gandhinagar.

“We have been here since yesterday morning and till now we are clueless. The organisers told us that they haven’t received our entries, but we deposited the required documents with SAI during the trials in Gandhinagar and also emailed them our details,” said a paraathlete to HT.

Another player highlighted the hardships they faced in arranging the funds and that now they could face the prospect of losing the money and a chance to participate at the Olympics.

“We faced a lot of hardships arranging for funds and if we are not allowed to compete, it will be a big monetary loss, and we will miss the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. The para-athletes are going to suffer because of someone else’s carelessness,” said another player.

Ever since the International Paralympics Committee suspended the Paralympics Committee of India in November 2015, SAI is taking care of the affairs of the para-athletes and participation entries are being routed through them.

Earlier, the selection trials were held in early January at SAI centre Gandhinagar and 36 players were shortlisted. Only 24 athletes managed to arrange the money for the trip, after the government had refused to fund the trip.

Reports claim that each player had to shell out Rs 80,000 for boarding, lodging and travelling.

Meanwhile, a SAI official said that they are trying to solve the issue.

“We don’t know what has really happened, but we are in touch with the international body and trying to solve the issue,” said a senior SAI official.