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Games - India firms up Birmingham boycott threats over shooting exclusion

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Games - India firms up Birmingham boycott threats over shooting exclusion
FILE PHOTO: Shooting - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions - Finals - Belmont Shooting Centre - Brisbane, Australia - April 14, 2018. Sanjeev Rajput of India. REUTERS/Eddie Safarik/File Photo   -   Copyright  XXSTRINGERXX xxxxx(Reuters)
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By Amlan Chakraborty

NEWDELHI (Reuters) – India’s threat to boycott the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham over shooting’s absence in the programme has intensified after the country’s Olympic association sought approval from the sports ministry for such a move.

Media reports have cited a lack of suitable facilities as the reason behind Birmingham’s decision to axe shooting which has featured at every Games since 1966, with the exception of Edinburgh in 1970.

After the decision was announced last year, the country’s shooting federation suggested boycotting the Games which would not feature what has been a high-yielding discipline for India.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has written a letter to sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking a meeting to explain the “proposed boycott”.

“We want to express our protest by not taking part in 2022 CWG Games…” Batra wrote in his letter to the minister seen by Reuters.

“We have been noticing over a period of time that wherever India seems to be getting grip on the game and performing well… either the goal posts are shifted or rules are changed.”

“We feel it is time for us in IOA/India to start asking tough questions and start taking tough positions,” added Batra, also the president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Indian shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games where they finished third in the medals table.

In shooting’s absence, India would slip to anywhere between fifth to eighth place in 2022, Batra wrote.

IOA have decided to boycott the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in Rwanda, also withdrawing candidatures of two of its officials from the September elections there.

CGF officials were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Christian Radnedge)

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