Indian Olympic Association president Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra last month had appraised the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju that IOA might take the extreme step to not participate in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games over exclusion of shooting from the Games’ disciplines list.
The body of the Australian shooters in a Press release has stated that it has been confirmed that the 2022 CWG, to be held in the British city of Birmingham, will not include any shooting events at all. The decision has led to India threatening to boycott the event, claiming they are being disadvantaged by exclusion from a sport they excel in.
Australian shooters won nine medals at the 2018 Games, including three golds, and collected the second-highest medal tally after India in the shooting events during the competition.
Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said the lack of shooting events was a slap in the face to Australia’s talented competitors, adding he did not believe the official reason for removing shooting from the 2022 event line-up.
“Birmingham is the traditional home of the UK’s sporting guns industry, so saying there are no suitable venues there for the Games’ shooting events is about as believable as saying there’s nowhere to go swimming on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“Australia should stand with India in demanding the shooting events be returned to the 2022 Commonwealth Games line-up, and be prepared to carry through with a boycott if they are not.
“Australia is well-known for our sporting achievements on the world stage and arbitrarily denying our top shooters a potential spot on the podium not only tells these hard-working athletes ‘the government doesn’t think your sport matters’, it dramatically lowers our potential medal count and thus our national prestige.”
Mr Park said if swimming or netball were removed from the Commonwealth Games, there would be outrage in Australia, and the country owed it to its athletes to take the same stance on the removal of the shooting sports.
“These are some of the very best shooters in the entire country competing at the highest levels of international competition,” he said.
“They train and practice and put in many years of hard work to get to that level, and having their moment in the spotlight pulled away because of what appears to be political correctness is inexcusable.”
Former Commonwealth Games Australian shooting team manager Jan Linsley said it was disgraceful the sport had been dropped from the event and echoed Mr Park’s skepticism regarding an alleged lack of suitable venues.
“At the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998, the shooting events were held on the island of Langkawi, which is a plane flight away from Kuala Lumpur – yet the Malaysians happily transported all the shooters and their gear by plane for the shooting events and then back again for the closing ceremony,” she said.
“Belmont shooting range is 80km from the Gold Coast and no-one thought that was a problem for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
Ms Linsley said even more concerning was the potential funding loss for Australian elite shooting sports training in Australia as a result of the situation.
“Obviously if there is no shooting at the Birmingham Games, the funding for top-level shooting sports training in Australia will be reduced, which could also impact on our ability to train and qualify shooting competitors for the Olympics,” she said.