New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s intervention and support to host the South Asian Games (SAG) early next year as was scheduled originally.
The IOA`s plea to the Prime Minister comes in the wake of South Asian Olympic Council`s (SAOC) decision to shift the Games to Kathmandu, Nepal if they are not held as scheduled in Delhi early next year.
SAOC`s decision was in response to reports that the SAG is likely to be deferred to the latter half of 2014.
"The rescheduling of the Games is not possible because if we don`t host the Games in January/February next year, they will be shifted to Kathmandu, Nepal," IOA acting President Vijay Kumar Malhotra said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
"The Executive Committee of South Asian Olympic Council, in its meeting has decided that in case Games are not held in India in 2013, they will be allotted to Kathmandu," he further wrote.
The Sports Ministry and the IOA had been at loggerheads over the exact dates for staging the regional Games in India. While the Sports Ministry wants to defer it till the second half of 2014, the IOA insists it should be held as per schedule in January 2013.
"We don`t have this leeway to shift or defer the Games and then hold it when Sports Ministry gives its clearance. Once these are moved out of the country it will be difficult for India to conduct them in the near future, given the rotational basis on which Games are allotted," the letter said.
"It will be a big embarrassment for India and its sporting fraternity if the Games are moved to another country. India is a leading member of the SAARC and it has certain obligation towards this regional organisation. Not holding the Games early next year, will weaken our position in the SAARC."
"SAG, earlier called South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, are part of the SAARC charter according to which Games have to be rotated among the member countries. Now is India`s turn," the letter added.
Malhotra also stressed that the IOA did not make any bid and SAG was allotted to India on the basis of the rotation system.
"In my earlier letter to you I had made it clear the IOA did not make any bid for these Games. They were allotted to us because of the rotation system. Last edition of the Games was held in Bangladesh. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have also hosted it," wrote Malhotra.
"The Sports ministry was fully aware of the dates of the Games. It was not a sudden development, Delhi Government was also kept informed about it and its consent was received.
"The reasons put forth by the Sports Ministry for seeking deferment of the Games are flimsy and contradictory and are not convincing."