IOA skips CGF meeting; does not rule out 2022 CWG boycott: Report

Indian Olympic Association has officially apprised the Commonwealth Games Federation about the threat that India may boycott the Birmingham 2020 Commonwealth Games.

The governing body for Olympic sports in India, IOA has opted out of the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly to register its protest over excluding shooting from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The IOA is building pressure to include shooting, among India’s best medal prospects, in the Games, national daily Times of India has reported, citing a letter IOA has sent to the CGF.

Indian shooters have returned with 16 medals from the 2018 CWG in Gold Coast, Australia.

CGF had decided to exclude shooting from the 2022 CWG. Registering strong protest over the move, the IOA has also withdrawn the nominations of its secretary-general Rajeev Mehta and joint secretary Namdev Shiragaonkar for the posts of CGF regional vice-president and sports committee member respectively.

The IOA in the letter to the CGF CEO David Grevemberg, has maintained its threat of pulling out of the 2022 CWG edition at its next executive council and general body meeting, with a hope that the IOA and CGF could have an “exclusive meeting” in India to thrash out the ‘shooting issue’.

“The leadership of the CGA India (read IOA) has taken the decision of withdrawal of participation in the CGF General Assembly to be held in Kigali, Rwanda in September. The nomination of candidates of CGA India for election during the General Assembly is withdrawn, namely Rajeev Mehta for regional vice-president (Asia) and Namdev Shiragaonkar for member of sports committee,” the IOA said in its letter.

“….we are compelled to reflect on our standing within the Commonwealth movement in recent times. There has been much ire and disapproval by our stakeholders on the exclusion of shooting in the sports programme of 2022 CWG. The executive council and general body of the IOA would ratify these decisions in its next meetings, wherein we would also be discussing about participation in Birmingham 2022 Games. We hope that the CGF and the IOA could have an exclusive meeting in India, in the coming months, for strengthening our ties and working together for the advancement of Commonwealth sports movement in the subcontinent,” the letter added.

This is the first official communication from the IOA to the CGF after shooting was dropped with the organisers nodding in favour of beach volleyball (men and women), women’s T20 cricket and para-table tennis (men and women). The decision was taken at the CGF executive board meeting last month.

The IOA also enjoys Government backing on the issue. Former sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and his successor, Kiren Rijiju, have also urged the CGF and Birmingham organisers to include the sport in the Games roster.

The CGF has left it to the local organisers to take a call on shooting’s inclusion.