New Delhi: Strange are the ways of the sports ministry. Tennis stars Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza, who have decided to skip the Asian Games, figure in the contingent cleared by the sports ministry but hockey assistant coach and a former India captain Jude Felix's name was struck off.
Besides Sania, her mother Naseema Mirza was also been cleared as the women's tennis team manager but former world No.1 shooter Heena Sidhu's husband, Raunak Pandit, who was an official in the shooting team was not so lucky as the sports ministry pruned the Incheon Asian Games contingent to 679 from 942 that was proposed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra Wednesday said it clearly reflects the double standards of the sports ministry.
"The secretary sports Ajit Sharan and Jiji Thomson, Sports Authority of India (SAI) director, know nothing about sports. It is time to get rid of them. They have deleted the names of physiotherapist, video analyst, scientific/fitness advisor and a coach. What is the rationale behind leaving out a physiotherapist and a video analyst? If any of the players get injured then who will help them," Batra told IANS Wednesday.
"This kind of ad-hoc decision-making by the SAI and ministry are not in the interest of sports and these decision shows that the people that are taking the decision have a complete lack of understanding of sports and have no idea as to what is required for competing in the international arena for the competition in the Asian Games," he added.
Batra wondered how the physiotherapist Gaurav Mehra and video analyst Amutha Prakash were left out.
"During the Asian Games, if it is found that the hockey teams are playing with less than 11 players due to injury because of non-availability of physiotherapist or the performance is not up to the mark due then don't blame Hockey India. It is all due to the lack of understanding amongst the government officials taking such decisions," he added.
Even HI's high performance director Roelant Oltmans, a world renowned Dutch coach, was not given the green signal by the sports ministry.
"In my entire coaching career I have never come across such a situation. I am completely perplexed. These distractions were the last thing the team needed ahead of the Asian Games," the famous Dutch coach told IANS.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta told IANS that he would be appealing against some of the decisions of the ministry.
"We told them that the respective federations are ready to bear the cost of the support staff. But the government is not allowing us to do so. It is a direct attack on the autonomy of the IOA," Mehta told IANS.
The decision to prune down the contingent for the Incheon Asian Games, slated for Sep 19-Oct 4, was taken Tuesday by Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The total number of participants shall be 679, including 516 athletes and 163 coaches and support staff. The IOA had sent a list of 942 participants, including 662 athletes and 280 officials. India will be participating in a total of 28 disciplines as against 35 last time.