The International Paralympic Committee announced this week that Indian athletes already registered with them through their Sport Data Management System (SDMS) will be allowed to compete internationally under an IPC flag, not an Indian one.
IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez was quoted in a letter sent to India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, “In order not to penalise Indian athletes, we have decided to enable athletes who are already licensed in our SDMS to participate in competitions. These athletes will not represent their country but will be competing under the IPC flag for the moment.”
Gonzalez was also quoted as saying, “We take note that the Government of India has also suspended PCI. We do appreciate the concern about the athletes, and would like to assure that we also have their best interest in mind and we will make sure they are not too affected by this sanction.”
The letter went on to say, “We keep receiving communications and documents from both groups involved in the dispute, as well as other parties we cannot identify. We would like to clarify that the suspension of PCI is maintained and will remain so until we have identified a solution to the situation. […] Our intention is to reform PCI and start anew with a refreshed organisation, with good grounds to evolve and develop para-sports in India.”
Secretary-General of the PCI, J Chandrasekhar was quoted as saying of the decision, “Each year, every national body will have to enter names of para-athletes to the SDMS for IPC to grant license. We already have around 300 Indian para-athlete’s who have already got license in view of the now postponed Indian Open Para Games.”
Athletes who are now eligible to compete internationally again include H N Girisha who won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Devendra Jhajharia who won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics, and Rajinder Singh Rahelu and Sakina Khatun who medalled at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
Important 2016 Summer Paralympic qualifying events which have re-opened for a number of Indian athletes include the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Asia Open Championship in Kazakhstan, 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, and the Doha hosted 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.
Indian athletes are still able to compete at international events where the sport’s governing body is not the IPC, and where the responsible organization is not the PCI. This includes IBSA events, including the recently complete 2015 IBSA World Games in Seoul which saw India’s 15 member strong athlete delegation come away with a pair of bronze medals.
The current internal situation in the PCI does not look like it is headed towards a resolution any time soon. An Annual General Meeting in Bangalore in Bangalore on May 17, where previously suspended PCI President Rajesh Tomar was removed again through a No Confidence Motion. At the same time, another group claiming to be the PCI held an Annual General Meeting on May 15. This group is headed by BJP Member of Parliament Rao Inderjit Singh. There is a third group out there also claiming to be the PCI. At the same time, the litigation issues brought before Indian courts do not appear to have been resolved.