Indian para-athletes may miss Rio Olympics after SAI's sloppiness

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Indian para-athletes may miss Rio Olympics after SAI's sloppiness

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Amlan Majumdar

03/16/2016

After the basketball and boxing fiascoes, the Indian para-athlete team could be the latest victim of bureaucratic ineptitude. The Sports Authority of India has failed to forward the entries of the Indian para-athletes for the Dubai qualifiers in time, which could deny the athletes a shot at Rio.

The qualifying tournament for the paralympics is set to start from March 17 at Dubai, after a two-day qualification process where a committee approves the degree of disability and allocates categories to the athletes. The Indian para-athlete team were left high and dry after they were prevented from appearing for the qualification process due to SAI's failure to submit their entries within the deadline.

“We have been here since yesterday morning and till now we are clueless. The organisers told us that they haven’t received our entries, but we deposited the required documents with SAI during the trials in Gandhinagar and also emailed them our details,” an Indian para-athlete was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

This added more insult to injury after the government had earlier denied them funds to sponsor this trip, and the athletes had to raise funds themselves. After the International Paralymics Committee (IPC) suspended the Paralympics committee of India last year, SAI took over the role of governing the para-athletes.

Thirty six athletes were selected for this tournament in Dubai after a selection process held in Gandhinagar, however only 24 athletes were able to raise funds for this trip. But now, even these 24 athletes face the prospect of missing out on the chance to qualify for the Olympics in Rio.

“We faced a lot of hardships arranging for funds and if we are not allowed to compete, it will be a big monetary loss, and we will miss the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. The para-athletes are going to suffer because of someone else’s carelessness,” another unnamed para-athlete told Hindustan Times.

A SAI official said that they are in touch with IPC and are working to solve this issue.

“We don’t know what has really happened, but we are in touch with the international body and trying to solve the issue,” a SAI official said.

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