Sachin Tendulkar has urged India to back boxer L Sarita Devi, who has been suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) after she refused to accept her bronze medal during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
After meeting Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the matter, Tendulkar stressed that the country should support Sarita in her fight to overturn the ban.
"I appeal to the entire country to be behind Sarita," NDTV quoted the cricketing legend as saying. "I know how it feels. Everyone responds differently to situations. Sarita's career should not be jeopardized. AIBA should consider her case."
Tendulkar feels the AIBA should allow Sarita to compete in top level competitions since she has apologised for her behaviour at the medal ceremony.
"As a fellow sportsperson, I can relate to the emotional turmoil which Ms. Devi must have undergone leading to the unfortunate outburst. Subsequently, she has regretted and deserves another chance to continue her pursuits, the 41-year-old said.
"As you may be aware, she has already apologised for her unsportsmanlike behaviour. As a country, we should make every effort to ensure that Ms. Devi is pardoned and allowed to pursue her boxing skills at the highest level."
Speaking to the media after the meeting, sports minister Sonowal has stated that the Indian government would appeal to the AIBA to reconsider the decision to suspend Sarita.
Sonowal also said that the Indian government and Boxing India would provide all necessary help to the Manipuri boxer.
"On behalf of the Government of India, we will take up the matter with AIBA. We will request them to reconsider her case. India will always be grateful to Sarita for what she has done for the country and she has our full backing," the minister emphasised.
Besides Tendulkar, boxers MC Mary Kom, Vijender Singh, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president N Ramachandran, Boxing India president Sandeep Jajodia and coach GS Sandhu were also present at the meeting.