AFI confident of keeping Asian meet in India

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Friday assured that the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships will stay in India despite Jharkhand declining to host the event.

An AFI official stated that all was not lost and they were working hard to try and convince Jharkhand to host the event, scheduled to be held in Ranchi from June 1-4.

“Our president (Adille Sumariwalla) is meeting the Jharkhand Chief Minister (Raghubar Das), to understand their reasons. We don’t know why Jharkhand government is pulling out from hosting. They had shown a keen interest earlier,” the official told Deccan Herald.  

“Our first attempt is that Ranchi gets to host the event. But be rest assured  the championships is not going out from India. Things should be clear by Monday.”

In case things didn’t work, the official said they had several options in place. The Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar had come up as an alternative and the AFI officials inspected the venue but found that the track was yet to be laid at the stadium. “It will take three months to get it ready but the Asian meet is only three months away,” the official said, hinting that they may even try to postpone the event for a month so that Bhubaneswar could be made ready.

A similar crisis had unfolded the last time India hosted the Asian meet in 2013. Chennai, the original host, backed out at the last moment over the Sri Lankan issue and it was shifted to Pune. The Asian Athletics Association will be hard pressed to find another venue if AFI fails to get a host city on time. The championship dates clash with the Ramadan period and gulf nations won’t be willing to host the continental meet during the period.

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