Following reports of awful conditions at the 600 athlete strong Indian National Para-Athletics Championships, the Indian Sports Ministry is seeking comment from event organizers to explain what happened following a media firestorm about the poor conditions. Athletes at the event reported they had to sleep on the floor in cramped conditions in unfurnished rooms, and that they were served bad food. They also claimed not to have access to toilets that worked or water that was drinkable. Athletes reported that they needed to bathe and use the toilet in open spaces as a result of these conditions. Accommodation for the event was provided by a private college in Madhuban-Bapudham.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted of the news, “…Differently-abled athletes and their well-being is a priority for us. We are examining the matter and are looking into the reasons for mismanagement of the event.”
In comments elsewhere, Sonowal was quoted as saying, “A detailed report has been asked on the organisation of the National Para-Athletic Games from the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). I have asked my sports secretary to take immediate action and submit a report within 24 hours. Based on that I will take action. From our part, there is no discrimination between abled-bodied and differently abled athletes.”
A release by the Sports Ministry said, “The sports ministry is looking into the incident and, if required, will not hesitate in issuing a comprehensive advisory stipulating minimum standards that need to be maintained in terms of boarding, lodging and other facilities for athletes participating in a national championships so that such incidents do not repeat.”
The government of Uttar Pradesh has denied any responsibility for the conditions, saying it is the responsibility of the Paralympic Committee of India.
The National Para-Athletics Championships served as a qualifying event for Indian athletes for an international athletics event scheduled for Delhi in May.