By Amlan Chakraborty
NEWDELHI (Reuters) – The likelihood of India boycotting the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham due to the absence of shooting as a medal sport appears to be fading, a senior official said on Thursday.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has threatened to boycott the Games as shooting — which supplied 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games — was dropped from the Birmingham programme as it is an optional sport for host cities.
India finished third in the 2018 medals table but in the absence of shooting, they could slip to anywhere between fifth and eighth place in 2022, according to IOA estimates.
“We are committed to working together for finding a solution to this,” Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Louise Martin and IOA president Narinder Batra said in a joint statement after holding talks on Thursday.
“Following our discussions, the CGF are increasingly hopeful that the athletes of India will compete at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
Batra, however, did not announce any climb-down during a news conference with the visiting CGF officials.
“The decision we took for withdrawal, it stands, but we have to update our Executive Board (EB) after this discussion,” said the IOA chief who also heads the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
“The discussions were good, our minds are open. You can’t move forward if you stop talking to each other. The decision of withdrawal still stands, but let me go to the EB and to our general assembly. That’s the process.”
CGF chief executive David Grevemberg said the governing body would continue to engage with the IOA.
“With regards to solutions for 2022, what we’ve agreed now hearing these concerns is to actively work together with India to address and find some solutions,” he said.
“This discussion in the past couple of months leading up to Birmingham 2022 has led to a lot of debate and a commitment by the members to review the sports programme looking forward.”
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Pritha Sarkar)