National Rifle Association of India, the main victim of shooting’s exclusion from the 2002 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, has backed Indian Olympic Association’s threat to boycott the Games if the sport was not restored in the competitive disciplines list.
The IOA had written a letter to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to appraise him about the situation, while proposing to boycott the quadrennial international, multi-discipline sports event.
Shooting is India’s biggest medal hope and exclusion of the sport will leave a severe dent on India’s position in the medals table.
However, India’s ace shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang are not in favour of boycotting the event. The duo opined walking away from the arena would not solve the problem even as NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia has backed the IOA call. “The Birmingham organisers are not playing fair. They cannot exclude an event where India is strong. We support the IOA’s proposal and I feel this is the only way we can force them to rethink,” Bhatia has told national daily Times of India.
The paper quoting sources has reported that the NRAI had offered of setting up the ranges in Birmingham, but the offer was not accepted. “The NRAI through the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) had offered to set up ranges for the CWG, if budget or logistics was an issue. But the offer wasn’t taken,” the source said.
Narang opposes the move. “For sports to grow, athletes need to take the field. Not participating means athletes are denied records and the nation denied glory. It is for the officials to find the best way to benefit the athletes, at the same time keep the flag flying high. Boycott isn’t a solution, it is sidestepping the real issue,” Narang told the daily.
Olympic gold medallist Bindra, “Boycotts don’t win you influence. They just make you irrelevant and punish other athletes. Would be far better if IOA did a campaign to load the CWG committees with their people and allies and push for the inclusion of shooting onto the core list of sports for the future.”
Reacting to development, the Commonwealth Games Federation said they want India to participate in the 2022 edition. “We absolutely want India to participate wholeheartedly in Birmingham 2022 and look forward to meeting our colleagues in India over the coming months to discuss their concerns and future ambitions,” CGF media and communications manager Tom Degun was quoted.