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Sri Lanka ready to replace Pakistan as 14th SA Games hosts

December 09, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan faces serious threats of losing the 14th South Asian Games hosting rights as Sri Lanka’s Minister of Sports Harin Fernando instructed his Olympic Committee (NOCSL) to look into the possibilities of hosting the mega event due to the dim picture coming out of the original host country.

Pakistan has been allotted the 14th edition of the Games which the country announced hosting in March 2024. With just three months remaining to the start of the Games, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination’s (IPC) Organising Committee has yet to finalise any plans in coordination with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) as to where and how the mega event will be staged.

New Director General of Sports Dr. Shemal Fernando (right) receives his letter of appointment from Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Roshan Ranasinghe. . — AFP File
New Director General of Sports Dr. Shemal Fernando (right) receives his letter of appointment from Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Roshan Ranasinghe. . — AFP File

The South Asian member countries with India at the forefront have started a campaign to deprive Pakistan of its hosting rights and have communicated the next host (Sri Lanka) to look at the options of hosting the Games in 2024.

According to reports reaching here, Director General, Department of Sports Development in Sri Lanka, Dr. Shemal Fernando has instructed participating federations to get ready to host the 14th edition of the Games.

The News is in possession of important correspondence between the leading stakeholders that reveals that just three months prior to the start, the Organising Committee is not sure where to organise the mega event or what are the venues for different sports disciplines.

The POA was given go-ahead by a high-level meeting held at the start of 2021 at the Prime Minister Office to hold the mega event in populous cities of Punjab with Lahore being the main centre. However, two years down the line the Organising Committee is still uncertain as to where these Games will be staged. The federal government has already approved Rs4 billion for the event with tenders already floated during the PTI government when Dr Fahmida Mirza was heading the Ministry of IPC.

In a recent letter written to the POA, the IPC Ministry looked keen on getting an update on the status of the Games with the National Olympic Committee in response clarifying its position that it is actually the Ministry that formed the Organising Committee.

The letter written to the Ministry by the POA states that it was the government that constituted the organising committee without even consulting the POA.

The POA maintained that there are serious threats to Pakistan’s hosting rights due to the unnecessary delay by the government-formed Organising Committee. “It is quite surprising that after the four years of allocation of the South Asian Games to Pakistan and various communications addressing your query on ‘responsible authority for conduct of the South Asian Games’ we are still in a confused state of mind.