Asian Games 2018: Funds’ shortage forces Pakistan Olympic Association to reduce contingent

Pakistan athletes

Faced with a shortage of funds, the Pakistan Olympic Association has decided to reduce the squad for Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

The athletes in Pakistan are set to suffer a major setback as the Pakistan Olympic Association has called a meeting to reduce the size of the national contingent that will participate in the upcoming Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang. While judo has already been dropped, numbers of players will be slashed in various other disciplines.

A crucial move would be decided in a meeting of concerned stakeholders at the Olympic House in Lahore.

The meeting, to be chaired by the Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) chief Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hassan, is being attended by the representatives of national sports federations and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

The PSB has told the POA that it wants to reduce the strength of the contingent as the government cannot sponsor more than 140 members for the multi-sport quadrennial event slated to be held from August 18 to September 2.

The Pakistan Olympic Association had initially said that a 397-member contingent would feature in the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, fully supported and funded by PSB. The board later retracted citing financial crunch. The decision has sparked an uproar in among the federations, crying foul, as they have been working hard to prepare their sides.

Pakistan media has reported that the PSB is not willing to fund the team sports. Judo has already become a casualty. The seven-member Judo team including top judokas like Qaiser Khan and Marrium have been denied opportunity to represent their country in Asian Games 2018. The Pakistani Judokas were already deprived of taking part in the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.

Pakistan athletes are scheduled to feature in 36 disciplines, but the Board has already announced that it will not fund football, table tennis, gymnastics, and basketball.

The latest developments have forced Pakistan Basketball Federation (PBBF) to not to send its team to Indonesia. The meeting will be held in three groups. The federations have to come up with a presentation to convince the officials of the medal prospects of their athletes.

The preparation of the national contingent has also suffered a major blow as the Board stopped some of the training camps on May 25 due to lack of funds. It was only on June 20 that the camps were resumed. The federations had been asked to keep the strength in the camps low.

The Board had promised that it would send players of a few disciplines abroad to prepare for Asiad. Athletes of wrestling, wushu and boxing were expected to undergo training at better facilities abroad. But the plans stayed only on the papers.

Wushu, a sport that has brought laurels to the country in the last three Asian Games, is already in a muddle as a chance of foreign tour for Wushu players have been put in jeopardy.

Football is the only discipline in which Pakistan have been preparing well as Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is spending its own money. The team is currently training in Bahrain for the Asian Games. Pakistan is also featuring in the Asian Games in some disciplines whose federations are not affiliated with the PSB and POA.