IOA rules out Birmingham 2022 boycott over exclusion of shooting

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Indian Olympic Association Chief Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra feels a boycott of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will not be a workable option for India even as the organisers have excluded shooting from the competition events lists.

Indian shooters, fans and sports lovers were left in a lurch after the Birmingham 2022 CWG Organising Committee decided to exclude shooting, India’s biggest medal hope, from the competition roster.

National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh had earlier launched calls for the country to boycott the event in protest.

“Top shooters contribute a major chunk of medals in the Commonwealth Games. If the discipline doesn’t feature in the schedule, India’s position in the medal tally will drastically come down. I, therefore, strongly appeal to the Sports Ministry and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to withdraw Indian team from the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Games,” Singh had stated earlier.

Shooting, being an optional sport of the Commonwealth Games Federation, was outcasted from the games itinerary after organisers cited lack of proper facilities close to the host city and its reluctance to build a new facility for the same. The OC has earlier said that the distance between the venue nearest Olympic-standard shooting range in Surrey is 250Km from Birmingham.

It is reported that the organisers have opted for judo, table tennis, wrestling, gymnastics, diving, cycling, and three-a-side basketball from the list of the seven optional games, in addition to 10 mandatory disciplines.

The IOA chief though felt that the NRAI president’s anguish was justified, however, he did not agree on the call to boycott the Games. “His (Raninder’s) anguish is justified, but to ask for a boycott of the Games because an optional discipline is not included is far-fetched,” Batra said.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has also turned down an invitation to criticise Birmingham 2022. Bach was asked during his visit to India whether he agreed with the decision.

“[The] IOC is completely different than CGF and Olympics are different than Commonwealth Games. We [the IOC] are a totally independent body and do not interfere in other organisation’s functioning,” Bach said during his two-day tour to India last week.

Shooting first featured at the Kingston Commonwealth Games in 1966 and it has been part of all editions since 1974. India has been a dominating force when it comes to shooting at the Commonwealth Games. At the 2014 edition in Glasgow, India won a total of 17 medals, which included four golds. When New Delhi hosted the Games in 2010, India topped the overall medals tally in shooting, winning a total of 30 medals — 14 golds, 11 silvers and 5 bronzes.

Continuing with the successful medal legacy, India finished third on the medals table at Gold Coast 2018 CWG concluded recently behind Australia and England with a total of 66 medals, 26 of them gold. Indian shooters had bagged 16 of those medals came in shooting, including seven of the gold.