Asian Athletics: Big doubt over Pak participation

Asian Athletics: Big doubt over Pak participation

Asian Athletics from July 6

Asian Athletics: Big doubt over Pak participation
The suspense over Pakistan's participation in the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships drew considerable attention on Wednesday even as the Odisha government made an impressive presentation about the hosting of the meet at Bhubaneswar from July 6-9.

With their visas awaiting the approval of the government, the final list of entries is yet to be issued by the organisers. The last date for the entries got over on Tuesday. The AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said they have adhered to the rules and sent out invitation to all the counties, including Pakistan. The foreign athletes are set to arrive in the country shortly. Bangladesh, the organisers revealed, have already reached.

“Pakistan has sent their entries and we have forwarded the name of their athletes and their passports to government. We are awaiting a response from the government," Sumariwalla said at a press event on Wednesday.

"India played with Pakistani teams in cricket and hockey. We are only waiting for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs to get back to us on Pakistan's participation. We should be able to release the final list within a couple of days.”

However, following the breakdown of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours, the only time India has played Pakistan off late is on a foreign venue of an international event. On the home soil, the Pakistan team couldn't participate in the FIH junior World Cup, Asian Squash Championship, and most recently Asian Wrestling Championships last month.

For the championships, the organisers said India would be fielding their biggest contingent of 168 athletes followed by China (96) and Japan (78). Overall, the event promises the participation of 815 athletes from 45 countries at the Kalinga Stadium, which has shaped up magnificently for the high profile event in mere 90 days.

Following the last minute refusal of Jharkhand to host the championships, Odisha stepped in to set up the facilities in record time --- two athletics tracks (main track and practice), high mast floodlights, and escalators in the stadium besides arranging for the transportation, accommodation and medical arrangements for the athletes and delegates. The event also saw in attendance former athletes Anju Bobby George, PT Usha and Shiny Wilson.

This will be the third time India will be hosting the Asian Championships after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013). The winners will gain direct entry to the World Championships in London in August.