SAI yet to clear Indian gymnasts' participation in Olympic qualification events, claims GFI official
Indian gymnasts, including Dipa Karmakar, were on Sunday, left in the lurch with a top Gymnastic Federation of India official claiming that the Sports Authority of India was yet to clear them for the upcoming World Cups at Baku and Doha.
The two World Cups are part of the 2020 Olympic Qualification series.
The GFI had registered Dipa for the two back-to-back World Cups to be held from March 14-17 and March 20-23 at Azerbaijan and Qatar respectively, while also sending the entries of Yogeshwar Singh and Ashish Kumar in the men's artistic section at the Doha event.
However, SAI has still not sanctioned the gymnasts' tours with the World Cup in Baku beginning in less than two weeks. The GFI has nominated its vice-president Riyaz Bhati to accompany the delegation at the two events.
However, Bhati claimed that SAI Project Manager Rajinder Pathania is not clearing the team because he wants to go for the two events.
"GFI has fulfilled its responsibilities concerning registration in a fair and timely manner and have informed all concerned. However, there is a lack of clarity from the Sports Authority of India and the sanction has still not been released with just 10 days remaining for departure for World Cup in Baku," he said.
"As the vice president of the Gymnastics Federation of India, I have been registered as head of delegation for both the World Cups. I personally called up Mr Rajinder Pathania to check the status and he informed that an official from SAI, preferably himself, should be registered to enable him to get the file cleared.
"I informed him that the federation will do the needful provided we have a formal communication from SAI."
Pathania did not respond to repeated calls.
Ranjeet Vasava, GFI general secretary, said in a release that the federation have "confirmed the registration to the gymnasts individually as well as collectively to the Sports Authority of India with a request to provide financial support to the gymnasts. We hope that SAI would provide the needful assistance to the gymnasts."
Last year, Indian gymnasts missed out on participation in the 36th FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Later, the Sports Ministry had refused to clear the team for the Doha 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships since the GFI is de-recognised and stands suspended as per the national sports code.
Dipa, who started her qualifying bid for the Tokyo Olympics by winning a bronze at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Cottbus, Germany, last year, will perform in the Vault and Beam event at both the World Cups and will be accompanied by her coach Bishweshwar Nandi and physiotherapist Sajad Ahmad Mir.
In Doha, Yogeshwar and Ashish will perform the Floor and Vault and both have requested for their coach Sandeepan CK and Manoj Rana to accompany them.
A gymnast has to participate in at least three of the eight World Cups in this series to be eligible for Olympic Qualifications.
At the end of the series (in Doha in March 2020), one gymnast on each apparatus with the maximum points (from best 3 performances) will qualify for the 2020 Olympics.