Football, TT may get axe from govt

Uncertainty looms over the participation of Indian football and table tennis teams in the Asian Games with Sports Ministry not willing to support the disciplines which hold little hope of a medal in the mega event.

While it is for the sports minister to take a final call on the matter, Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson said the move was necessary to cut down the jumbo Indian contingent forwarded by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the Asian Games.

“Sports minister will take a final call on the participation of the players in some of the disciplines where we don’t have a chance of winning a medal. We will not field our teams in baseball, bowling, fencing, karate, modern pentathlon, rugby, softball, soft tennis and triathlon. Since cue sports, chess and roller sports are also not there at the Incheon Asian Games roster, so we lose out on medals from these events as well. Cricket we do have a bright chance but BCCI is against sending a team,” Thomson told reporters on Wednesday.

“As of now we have a 922-member contingent and surely it will be trimmed after we get the approval from the sports minister. Whatever the number of the athletes is, 24 per cent of that figure will be that of the officials.”

Thomson said there is also possibility of table tennis, football and handball teams being excluded from the Indian contingent.

“Table tennis is another event where we do not expect a medal because the level of competition is very high in Asia. But of course, participating at this level is also something that gives experience. For team sports, we have set eighth place in Asia as benchmark for selection. Our football teams definitely don’t figure in that range. It performed quite badly against Pakistan recently. So we will wait for the minister to decide,” Thomson said.

In the previous edition in Guangzhou, India registered its best ever performance in the Asian Games winning 64 medals including 14 gold. Thomson said they were expecting an even richer medal haul from the Indian athletes this time.

“We are expecting 72-100 medals at the Asian Games. Last time (Asian Games) we won 12 medals in athletics and this time we are expecting it to reach 16. Shooting is another event from which we have high expectations and possibly we will win 14 medals,” Thomson said.

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