Tuesday November 30, 2021

SA Games in four cities: POA seeks written assurance from govt

October 07, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) wants in writing assurance from the federal government on almost seven counts to hold the 14th South Asian Games in four different cities of the country in March 2022.

An initial meeting to this effect was held at the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) offices in Islamabad on Tuesday which was attended by ministry officials as well as POA Secretary Mohammad Khalid Mehmood.

Later talking to ‘The News’, the POA secretary has confirmed that the meeting was very important to clear the way for taking the first step to hold the mega event in 2022.

“We have not yet taken the first step towards hosting the 14th edition of the Games. The first and foremost step would be to give the South Asian Games Olympic Committee an in-writing assurance on all the matters directly concerned with the federal government. Unless and until that document of assurance reaches the SA Games committee, we would not be in a position to make further moves,” he said.

Though the POA secretary did not reveal what measures the government required to kickstart the preparations, a ministry official has confirmed that the majority of issues were related to the government assurance to support the mega event in best to their capacity.

“Look it is the federal government that provides visa, security, customs cover and assurance to welcome all guests turning up for the Games in Pakistan. Besides players and officials from the regions, dignitaries from all over the world would be attending the Games as guests.

“It is the central government that will have to assure their formalities concerning their traveling and stay in Pakistan. Besides that, all those athletes who would travel to Pakistan will have to carry their equipment that needs customs and security clearance in time.”

The most important aspect of holding such big events relates to the establishment of the Central Secretariat that could oversee the arrangements. When Pakistan hosted the first ever SAF Games in 1989 and the second one in 2004, the secretariat started working before almost three years and in 2004 Games’ case almost four years prior to the dates.

“Yes, we are concerned as no step has yet to be taken to establish the Central Secretariat. It is a must as every other matter revolves around this,” Khalid Mehmood said.

The POA official during the meeting again reiterated its stance of holding the Games in four major cities of the country. “We want to host the competitions in four major cities of the country and these include Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot and Peshawar. It is very important to spread the events to all those cities which have easy road access to each other. Lahore should be made the centre point for the Games.”

Though the staging of SA Games and issues relating to its preparations were echoed during the PSB Board meeting held last month in Islamabad, it was the first ever meeting solely held for the purpose between POA and government officials.

There is however greater requirement for better coordination between the two and meeting between the high ups from both sides could well set the things rolling. Neither the POA nor the government could alone hold such an important event where nation’s prestige and image is involved.