Shooters Call for a Boycott of the 2022 Commonwealth Games
India has stayed firm with a plan to boycott the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham over shooting’s absence in the programme has intensified after the country’s Olympic association sought approval from the sports ministry for such a move.
Reports have cited a lack of suitable facilities as the reason behind Birmingham’s decision to axe shooting which has featured at every Games since 1966, with the exception of Edinburgh in 1970.
After the decision was announced last year, the country’s shooting federation suggested boycotting the Games which would
not feature what has been a high-yielding discipline for India.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has written a letter to sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking a meeting to explain the “proposed boycott”.
“We want to express our protest by not taking part in 2022 CWG Games …” Batra wrote in his letter to the minister. “We have been noticing over a period of time that wherever India seems to be getting grip on the game and performing well … either the goalposts are shifted or rules are changed.”
Batra, also the president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), added: “We feel it is time for us in IOA/India to start asking tough questions and start taking tough positions.”
Indian shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games where they finished third in the medals table. In shooting’s absence, India would slip to anywhere between fifth to eighth place in 2022, Batra wrote.
The Shooters Union of Australia beleives that Australia should follow suit with a media release stating:
AUSTRALIA should follow India in seriously considering a boycott of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, says the country’s pre-eminent shooting organisation.
It has been confirmed that the Games, being held in the British city of Birmingham, will not include any shooting events at all – which has led to India threatening to boycott the event, claiming they are being disadvantaged by exclusion from a sport they excel in.
Australian shooters won nine medals at the 2018 Games, including three golds, and collected the second-highest medal tally after India in the shooting events during the competition.
Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said the lack of shooting events was a slap in the face to Australia’s talented competitors, adding he did not believe the official reason for removing shooting from the 2022 event line-up.
“Birmingham is the traditional home of the UK’s sporting guns industry, so saying there are no suitable venues there for the Games’ shooting events is about as believable as saying there’s nowhere to go swimming on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“Australia should stand with India in demanding the shooting events be returned to the 2022 Commonwealth Games line-up, and be prepared to carry through with a boycott if they are not.
“Australia is well-known for our sporting achievements on the world stage and arbitrarily denying our top shooters a potential spot on the podium not only tells these hard-working athletes ‘the government doesn’t think your sport matters’, it dramatically lowers our potential medal count and thus our national prestige.”
Mr Park said if swimming or netball were removed from the Commonwealth Games, there would be outrage in Australia, and the country owed it to its athletes to take the same stance on the removal of the shooting sports.
“These are some of the very best shooters in the entire country competing at the highest levels of international competition,” he said.
“They train and practice and put in many years of hard work to get to that level, and having their moment in the spotlight pulled away because of what appears to be political correctness is inexcusable.”
Former Commonwealth Games Australian shooting team manager Jan Linsley said it was disgraceful the sport had been dropped from the event and echoed Mr Park's skepticism regarding an alleged lack of suitable venues.
“At the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998, the shooting events were held on the island of Langkawi, which is a plane flight away from Kuala Lumpur - yet the Malaysians happily transported all the shooters and their gear by plane for the shooting events and then back again for the closing ceremony,” she said.
“Belmont shooting range is 80km from the Gold Coast and no-one thought that was a problem for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
Ms Linsley said even more concerning was the potential funding loss for Australian elite shooting sports training in Australia as a result of the situation.
“Obviously if there is no shooting at the Birmingham Games, the funding for top-level shooting sports training in Australia will be reduced, which could also impact on our ability to train and qualify shooting competitors for the Olympics,” she said.
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