According to reports, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has called a meeting to decide its course of action after Sports Ministry asked it to relax Asian Games selection norms for better medal prospects. However, IOA stated that it would be difficult to convince the organizers to send more entries.
The sports ministry, on Wednesday, urged the IOA to relax selection norms in specific cases ‘in the larger interest of the sports and sportspersons’ after concerns were raised by various athletes and teams that have missed the cut. The ministry said the Olympic body in consultation with particular federations may reassess the earlier decision on sending entries if those ineligible disciplines have performed consistently for six months but not made it due to lack of exposure and at the same time have strong chance of finishing in the top four.
According to reports from TOI, the recent circular has put the IOA in a dilemma and the Olympic body has decided to discuss the matter with its Core and Legal Committee on Friday before responding to the sports ministry.
"We have called a meeting of our Core Committee and Legal Committee tomorrow morning at 11 am to discuss the matter and see how to take forward the Ministry's proposal," IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said as quoted by TOI.
"The meeting will also be attended by IOA president (Narinder Batra) and chairman of Preparation Panel (Lalit Bhanot). We will have to discuss the matter extensively and see what can be done."
The IOA official, however, admitted that it would be tough to convince the Asian Games organizers for late inclusions as the last date of entries by name was June 30.
"We will have to take a decision on the ministry's proposal. But it has come too late. If we decide on sending more athletes, whether to accept our request or not, rests on the Asian Games Orgainsing Committee," he said.
To make matters worse for the IOA, the draws of some sports, including football, have already been announced and it is highly unlikely that the Indian contingent would be accepted at this juncture. The IOA had named a 524-member contingent earlier this month leading to a massive controversy as they left out football for low rankings and the entire four-member triathlon team for furnishing misleading information.
The IOA then dropped 20 athletes from the Pencak Silat team, alleging fake credentials, prompting the national federation to threaten legal action. The men's handball team was cleared at the expense of Pencak Silat athletes after the federation knocked the doors of Allahabad High Court. In the original squad announced by IOA, six Sambo athletes, two male and four female, were included but the number was later cut to just one.