Point Blank 7, an online Indian publication that bills itself as “Clean and credible, non-partisan news, views, analysis of issues untold, overlooked or killed by the mainstream media”, started a petition two days on Change.Org asking the IPC to allow Indians to compete at the 2016 Summer Paralympics under their own flag following the suspension of the Paralympic Committee of India by the International Paralympic Committee. The decision resulted in Indians being unable to compete in internationally sanctioned events. So far, around 120 people have signed the petition.
The petition says, “With no access to formal coaching, limited access to funds , no sponsorship, barely any media coverage, these athletes, fighting against all odds, train to represent their country at various levels. Inspite of all the discrimination they are made to face, they do not fall behind in playing for their country. Is it then fair, that they should be stopped from participating in these events for no fault of theirs? Why should they suffer for the wrong doings of a select few officials?
“While the enquiry on the PCI can go on, we request the Sports ministry to institute a new paralympic athletes committee in the mean time and urge the International Paralympic Committee to allow our athletes to participate in the upcoming events.”
A number of people who identify as para-athletes have signed the petition, including Nikita Kumar, Deepa Malik, Ajoy Chetia, and Sharad Kumar. Malik has set an A qualifying score that should qualify her for the 2016 Summer Paralympics under normal circumstances. At the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, she won a silver medal in the women’s F52/53 shot put.
Most of the comments follow the theme that Indian athletes should not be punished for the actions of their sport leaders, with people thinking that athletes who have worked hard to have their dreams of competing and representing India at the highest level should have the opportunity to do so.
This petition follows one created three weeks ago by Pradeep Raj asking the Indian government to dissolve the PCI and “Reconstitute the Paralympic Committee of India with adequate representation of para-athletes”. To date, the petition has been signed 9,227 people.