New Delhi: Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal Wednesday said the Indian government will appeal to the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to reconsider its decision of provisionally suspending L. Sarita Devi, following her refusal to accept the bronze medal at the Asian Games ceremony.
Sarita was distraught for having been adjudged as the loser in the women's 60 kg semi-final bout against South Korea's Park Ji-Na despite dominating the fight at Incheon Sep 30.
Sonowal said the government will extend all necessary help to the suspended boxer and will ensure that Sarita gets support from Boxing India (BI).
"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," Sonowal said.
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who met Sonowal in his capacity as a Member of Parliament to discuss Sarita's suspension, said the entire country should stand behind the boxer.
"I appeal to the entire country to be behind Sarita Devi. I understand what she went through as a sportsperson. She has apologised. AIBA should reconsider Sarita's case. We will appeal to them again," Tendulkar said after the meeting.
"The discussion with the sports minister was on how to move forward and request AIBA to be lenient on Sarita. Sarita's career should not be jeopardised."
The hour-long meeting was also attended by national boxing coach G.S. Sandhu, Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Jiji Thomson, Sports Secretary Ajit Sharan, BI president Sandeep Jajodia and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh.
Besides Sarita, the AIBA has also barred Sandhu, foreign coach B.I. Fernandez and India's chef-de-mission at the Asian Games Adille Sumariwalla from participating in AIBA competitions until further notice.
Earlier, Sonowal also conferred the Arjuna Award on boxer Manoj Kumar, who had won a gold in the men's light welterweight division at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.