Cue sports stars Pankaj Advani, Geet Sethi and Alok Kumar might not be part of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014 as on Monday, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), at its board meeting here, endorsed its earlier decision of bringing down the number ofÂ disciplines from 42 to 35.
An even bigger cause for concern for the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is that kabaddi could be eased out if it does not lobby hard for a sport where India has won gold every time since it was introduced in 1990.
Though the final decision on the seven non-Olympic disciplines at the Incheon Games – apart from the mandatory 28 Olympic disciplines -will be taken by the OCA next month, it is a given that baize sport and chess -two of India’s biggest gold-medal grossers – will be on their way out.
Cricket survived despite stiff resistance from the Incheon Games organising committee, with OCA president Shaikh Ahmed al-Fahad Al Sabah saying that he had taken a guarantee from the organising committee to that effect.
A source in the OCA, who didn’t want to be named because he isn’t authorised to speak, explained that given cricket’s potential for drawing crowds and generating revenue, the OCA does not want it to exit the Games so soon.
Incheon has been lobbying for the inclusion of baseball, 10-pin bowling, kabaddi, sepak takraw, squash, soft ball and wushu for the 2014 Games but with the OCA chief insisting on cricket and karate, sources said two disciplines from the seven proposed by it could have to move out.
And kabaddi could be one the casualties, though the South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Iran will vehemently oppose it.
“In keeping with the interest of the national Olympic committees, we will decrease the number of sports disciplines from 42 to 35. There will be 28 Olympic disciplines and seven non-Olympic disciplines from the various regions of Asia,” said Al Sabah.
“The Incheon organisers have accepted our demand for the inclusion of cricket and karate but we will not be announcing anything until the decision is finally made.”
Chess, which was included in Doha four years ago with India reaping a rich haul of two gold, including an individual gold by WGM Koneru Humpy, will now probably become part of the Asian Indoor Games. Ditto baize sport.
Advani, who clinched India’s first gold, in billiards, here on Sunday, had recently termed the possibility of baize sport being moved to the Asian Indoor Games as disheartening.
On India’s bid for the 2019 Asian Games, Al-Sabah merely said: “India is one of our main supporters, they hosted the first (Asian) Games for the OCA before. They have a chance and they have to follow a procedure.”
Randhir Singh, the OCA and IOA secretary-general, stayed away from the media conference.