Thursday September 23, 2021

Pakistan misses liaison opportunity as no govt official is in Tokyo

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in history, no government official either from Pakistan Sports Board or Ministry of Inter-Provincial Committee is accompanying the national contingent in the Olympic Games, leaving a vacuum of coordination.

The last-ditch effort by the recently appointed Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Col (rtd) Asif Zaman to become a part of the contingent went fruitless because of the expiry of the deadline to seek accreditation.

PSB Deputy Director General Mansoor Ahmad Khan, who was accredited, was not allowed to travel with the contingent to Tokyo Games. Mansoor is currently fighting a legal battle against the Ministry of IPC for not getting the post of the Director General.

Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) after receiving approval from the then secretary IPC Akbar Durrani formally processed Mansoor’s accreditation for the Olympics. The accreditation process usually starts a year before the event.

It was when Mansoor Ahmad received his accreditation that the Ministry denied him permission to accompany the contingent to the Games.

A good number of PSB and Ministry officials accompanied the contingent at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal in December 2019.

During the opening ceremony, Pakistan contingent members were seen stepping into the Olympic Stadium without a mask. Though some other countries’ contingents also did the same, the situation could have been avoided with better coordination.

The majority of the participants belonging to different countries were seen wearing the national flag as a mask to protect themselves against Covid-19.

No such masks were provided to the Pakistan contingent by the PSB.

“Though the contingent should have followed the SOPs that were there for the Games, it is not obligatory as all games are played and refereed without a mask. All the contingent members are vaccinated,” an official accompanying the contingent said.

With Pakistan set to host the 14th South Games in around 19 months, the presence of a PSB or IPC official would have been beneficial to the country.

This was an opportunity to liaise with international bodies, especially when the Pakistan government wants to hire renowned international coaches for different sports for the South Asian Games.

“Seeking accreditation is a long process. If Mansoor had his documents in place, he should have been allowed to travel with the contingent,” a federation official, when contacted in Japan, said.

The IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza was also accredited for the Games. However, she was advised against traveling to Japan because of health risks.