NRAI urges PM to dicuss shooting's ouster from 2022 CWG

NRAI urges PM to dicuss shooting's ouster from 2022 CWG

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

India's shooting federation wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the sport's axing from the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games with his British counterpart Boris Johnson, insisting that the exclusion is a "retrograde step" for the entire sub-continent.

National Rifles Association of India's (NRAI) President Raninder Singh has urged Modi to press for the sport's re-inclusion with Johnson.

The Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games Federation has excluded shooting from the 2022 Games roster on the recommendation of a review panel comprising representatives from the local and national government, as well as the organising committee and Commonwealth England.

The move kicked up a storm here and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) threatened to boycott the CWG if the sport was not reinstated. Shooting has been included in every CWG, barring 1966, but is not a core sport on the Games roster.

In an analysis paper unveiled on Thursday, the NRAI chief didn't make another boycott call like last year, but urged Modi to take up the matter.

"...we once again look to our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to take up the matter bilaterally with his counterpart Mr Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of UK at his earliest convenience," Raninder said.

He said that Modi had taken a similar initiative when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was the sports minister.

"Our PM did so (take up the matter) during bilateral discussions upon his visit to London and the (then) British PM (Theresa May) did agree to look into the matter," he said.

At the same time, he also said that IOA and the sports ministry must take up the matter for the re-inclusion of shooting with their counterparts.

Raninder said that not only India, which will be severely affected by the exclusion of shooting, the neighbouring Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will also be impacted in a big way.

"India stands to lose between 24 per cent and 27 percent of the medals it would otherwise win. Sri Lanka is also adversely impacted (15 per cent) in long term. Sans shooting 100 per cent of Bangladesh medal tally is lost," he said.

"... Not a single tier one sporting nation ... Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales and South Africa (is not adversely affected). India is the sole tier one nation whose ranking is adversely affected. This clearly begs the question that would not the exclusion of shooting be in contradiction of the very spirit that the CWG rests upon?

"National pride is equally important as is the Olympic Spirit and sportsmanship. It is pertinent to note that India and its neighbours contain a large population that aspires to not only compete but also to promote the CWG."

Raninder also sought to reject the argument of the organisers that hosting the shooting event at Bisley Range, 130 km from Birmingham, would have incurred high cost.

He said that the world governing body ISSF offered to provide 7,40,000 pounds to make the Bisley range fit for the Games. He also said that the ISSF pledged to provide an additional amount of 40,000 pounds to cover the cost to be incurred on officials that will be required to conduct shooting.

"No further investment is warranted on the range as all the infrastructure required to conduct shooting was there since 2002 Manchester CWG."

On the argument that the Bisley Shooting Range is too far from Birmingham, he said, "Shooting as a sport is quite adept to two hours there and back. This happens in some ISSF World Cups and Asian Games quite regularly as given the use of firearms in different nations have different pre-designated areas where ranges are situated...hence long bus rides are not new to us."

He wondered how the Games organisers would conduct cycling and equestrian events in London, which is much farther from Birmingham than Bisley.

Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid has said that the proposed location for shooting, at Bisley in Surrey, "offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands".

He said that the assessment process was "fair, logical and transparent" and that shooting was offered a chance to make a Birmingham-based proposal for just two of its four disciplines, but the compromise was rejected by the sport.