The suspended former President of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) Rajesh Tomar expressed shock at the IPC decision on Twitter, and has said the only way he can see the IPC decision being overturned is through direct intervention on the part of the Indian government.
Tomar also alleged that his ouster and other actions taken by the PCI Executive Committee behaved in an “irregular” way on their April 4 meeting in Bangalore, telling DNA India, “The April EC meeting in Bangalore passed the accounts of the PCI in an irregular manner and the IPC has its own sources to know all these.”
In response to this news, PCI Secretary-General J Chandrashekar told PTI, “We are shocked at this harsh decision. The [IPC] cited infighting and the Ghaziabad incident for the suspension. We will request the world body to reconsider its decision. We will request at least to allow our athletes to take part in international event. […] Unless, the IPC does not revoke the suspension very soon, I think the Indian Open will not take place. How can the event will be held if the Indian athletes do not take part in that.”
Last week, Tomar and Chandrashekar both met with representatives of the Indian Government to discuss the situation inside the Paralympic Committee of India and events leading up to the Para-Athletics Championships.
The Para-Athletics Championship took place from March 20 to March 22 in Ghaziabad, India. Some athletes were required to sleep on the floor, and many did not have access to toilets. The event organizers also failed to provide drinkable water, and acceptable food for competitors to eat. In March, immediately following the story of the poor treatment of Indian athletes became big news domestically, Tomar was quoted as saying, “The PCI governs 70 federations and it the Paralympic Federation of India’s job to conduct the National Championships. They are in touch with the local organisers and our job is to oversee it. We have constituted a four-member committee, which includes an athlete, and they will file a report. Stern action will be taken, if needed.”
Tomar was quoted elsewhere at that time as saying, “There seems to be a serious lapse on the part of the Local Organizing Committee and we need to address this issue immediately. It is needless to say that the situation is very disturbing, and at this juncture it is premature to hold anyone responsible. […] In this view, I as the president of PCI, have constituted a committee to investigate and analyse the factual problems and have requested the committee to submit their report regarding all that went wrong in conducting the championships. […] The scope of enquiry will not be limited to just fact findings, but those found guilty will also be held accountable for such a depressing state of affairs.”
The IPC had talked to Tomar around that time, and Tomar had been promised the IPC that they would get a copy of the report being generated by the PCI explaining how these events came to be.
Zee News is reporting that the 1st Indian Open Para-Games 2015, New Delhi have been rescheduled from the original May dates to some time in October. They quote Union Social Justice Ministry sources as saying, “As there was some problem within the Executive Committee members of PCI, we have already communicated with PCI that they must resolve their issues before the Para Games could be organised. […] Initially, the event was scheduled for May, but now it may be postponed to October this year.[…] As per the previous proposal, the Ministry of Social Justice and Sports Ministry would jointly organise the event, wherein facilities of Sport Ministry would be used. But even budget for the event could not be prepared.”
The extent to which Indian athletes are impacted internationally may be limited as the country does not have a long history and deep history of participation at the elite level. The country did managed to send an 87 member strong delegation to last year’s Asian Para Games, with Indians competing in archery, athletics, badminton, judo, swimming, shooting, table tennis and wheelchair fencing. They won 3 golds, 14 silvers and 16 bronze medals. On the judo front, future development looks questionable. Earlier this year, Indian Blind and Para Judo Association had applied for government funds to send their athletes to compete internationally, but the request was rejected because the organization was deemed too new.
Outside of that competition, India appears not very active. Powerlifters may be the most hurt, with India having two internationally ranked competitors including Farman Basha who is ranked third in the world in the Men’s Up to 49.00kg, and Sakina Khatun who is ranked third in the world in the Women’s Up to 45.00kg. Swimmers appears only marginally impacted as Justin Vijay Jesudas is India’s sole internationally ranked swimmer. As he is currently ranked in six different events, this likely represents a huge personal blow for his opportunity to go to Rio. Vikas Dagar is India’s only internationally ranked athletics competitor. He is currently ranked second in the world in the Men’s 100 m T43 event.
Currently, there are no ITF listed wheelchair tennis players from India. ISAF/IFDS records do not show any Indian competitors in sailing. There were no internationally ranked Indian skiers. There are also no internationally ranked shooters. There are no WTF classified para-Taekwondo competitors from India.
India’s most popular disability sport is blind cricket. The sport is not governed by the IPC, nor by the IPC affiliated IBSA. The national organization governing the sport has been able to successfully get funding for its events, and this decision related to the PIC does not appear to impact that organization.