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Not in Olympic mood yet

Not in Olympic mood yet
Highlights

There never was any dispute to India making it to the top of the medals tally in the 12th South Asian Games (SAF) now underway in the North East. The only thing that remained uncertain was in the number of events that the host would dominate. 

There never was any dispute to India making it to the top of the medals tally in the 12th South Asian Games (SAF) now underway in the North East. The only thing that remained uncertain was in the number of events that the host would dominate.

On the face of it, archers, shuttlers, lifters and squash players have justified the billing, and the expectations, by their superlative performances. There is no scope for arguments on that count because India has been a force to reckon with in championships that were larger and more challenging across the globe. And, as such, this was easy meat.

The biggest revelation has been the participation of athletes from Pakistan. It should be welcomed. The hopes of cricketers playing on Indian soil remain a far-fetched dream but those into other disciplines can still parade their skills here.

Call it double standards or whatever, but the moot point is that the deciding authorities (to give the green signal) happen to be the same personnel. If athletes can be allowed into India what, or more importantly who, is stopping the cricketers from coming over for a series, howsoever small? Ironically, former Pakistan cricketers are given visa if they come as commentators or mentors for IPL franchises.

Is it to be presumed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has a bigger voice and one that can dictate terms to the men running the country’s foreign policy? Is the BCCI a bigger authority than the Union Government? One sincerely hopes that such preposterous extra-constitutional powers are not vested with ‘an autonomous non-government aided society’ as the Board calls itself.

One should not be surprised if the BCCI propels the women squash final to prove that Pakistan cannot be relied upon for a clean competition. The Board will flaunt the acrimonious showdown to assert that bad blood runs in the genes.

Coming to the competitions part, a closer study exposes several wrong presumptions that are either being ignored or overlooked. The fact that this happens to be the Olympic year is something that is still not driven into the mindset of the administrators and authorities at Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

Somehow, one gets the feeling that not much importance is being given to SAF, perhaps for the simple reason that the level of competition would not be a test of the competence and preparedness of Indian athletes. Why should Saina Nehwal be given a free hand in deciding the events she wishes to participate? Such exceptions are never given in foreign nations except when someone is genuinely down with injuries.

However, although Indians have been winning laurels, the reality is that it has not exactly been as encouraging. That India lost to Pakistan in hockey was a major setback because the rivalry between the two nations has been as volatile as it has been in cricket. An Olympic year ought to be taken with a more serious purposefulness.

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