PSB-POA dispute takes ugly turn

Karachi: The ongoing dispute between the government backed Pakistan Sports Board and the Pakistan Olympic Association, which is recognised by the IOC, has taken a serious turn after two swimmers were stopped from going to Indonesia for the Islamic Solidarity Games.

Sikander Khan and Ghulam Muhammad were stopped from boarding the flight at Lahore airport on Saturday night by Federal Investigation Agency officials, who claimed they didn`t have the required NOCs from the PSB to go abroad for an international sports event.

"We got instructions from the PSB, which represents the government, not to allow the swimmers to go abroad because of the NOC issues," one FIA official said.

The two swimmers were selected by the Pakistan Olympic Association headed by Lt General (retd) Arif Hasan.

The International Olympic Committee has flatly refused to recognise the body headed by another former military man, Akram Sahi, who is supported by the state owned PSB.

Efforts by Sahi and PSB to select and send a contingent to Indonesia for the Islamic Solidarity Games also didn`t work out as the organisers informed them that they couldn`t be allowed as they were not recognised by the IOC.

The refusal apparently angered the PSB and it threatened to take Arif Hasan to court and also said it had asked the government to lodge a complaint against him with the Army chief.

The PSB had also suffered another setback recently when the organisers of the Commonwealth Games refused to accept any letter from them confirming the participation of the hockey team in the mega event next year in Glasgow.

"What the PSB has done is totally illegal and they are not authorised to stop any athlete from going abroad to take part in an international sporting event," Arif Hasan said and pointed out that the travel documents and accreditation of both swimmers were complete so there was no legal means to stop them from travelling to Indonesia.

"Their actions are scandalous and the organisers of the Islamic Games have made it clear to the PSB they only recognise us. The strange part is that the chef de mission of the swimming team has already left for Indonesia.”

"This continued government interference and this latest incident will only hasten the IOC to impose a ban on Pakistan and that would be disastrous for our sports and athletes," warned Hasan.

The IOC has summoned the Pakistani minister for sports, Riaz Pirzada to its headquarters in October to discuss the dispute and a possible ban on Pakistan.

The dispute in Pakistan sports gained momentum early this year when the PSB allowed the elections of a parallel POA body, which is not recognised by the IOC, insisting Arif Hasan had violated the national sports policy after being elected for a third term as President.