After days of uncertainty, the Sports Ministry has announced that it has decided to cut down the contingent proposed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to 679 from a previously proposed total of 942 delegates, for the 2014 Asian Games, in Incheon, South Korea, later this month.
The Ministry came out with the list of athletes and officials to be sent to the Asian Games after Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. The Asian Games, which begins on Friday 19 September, will have a total of 35 disciplines, and India are set to participate in only 28 of them.
The IOA had previously submitted a contingent of 942 people, consisting of 662 athletes and 280 coaches or officials. They had submitted this list on 21 August to the ministry. However, the ministry seemed to be reluctant to send such a large contingent to the event. According to the ministry's guidelines, the IOA had to send the list 90 days in advance.
The Sports Minister, in consultation with the Prime Minister, has brought down this contingent to a total of 679, consisting of 516 athletes and 163 coaches, officials and support staff.
The Sports Ministry had earlier; reportedly set a criterion for the Indian teams and athletes to participate in the event. The criterion seemed to be that the teams needed to be ranked eighth or above, while the athletes in individual sports needed to be ranked sixth or above in Asia, in their respective disciplines. The justification provided for this stand by the ministry was that they wanted to ensure that India only participated in the sporting disciplines where they stand a chance of winning a medal.
"In Asiad 2010 in Guangzhou, China, we had sent a contingent of 609 athletes plus 324 officials (933)," said the Sports Ministry, in a statement, to IANS. "It has also been decided that 'No Cost to Government' shall not be a consideration for finalising the national contingent. The exercise was undertaken to ensure that the deserving athletes, coaches and supporting personnel are participating in the [Asian] Games."
The decision to not allow the sporting federations to fund their own players and athletes to represent India in the games seems to be a crushing blow for all those who have missed out on this month's games.
Earlier reports suggested that the ministry were planning to cut the total Indian contingent to around 700, but cutting out five disciplines – football, basketball, table tennis, handball and sepak takraw. However, all these disciplines have been included in the Indian contingent, for the Incheon Games, with tenpin bowling missing out.
The 28 disciplines where India would participate, in the Incheon Games are athletics, archery, aquatics, boxing, basketball, cycling, canoeing &kayaking, equestrian, football, gymnastics, golf, hockey, handball, judo, kabaddi, rowing, squash, shooting, sepak takraw, tennis, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball, weightlifting, wushu, wrestling and yachting.