Saturday September 18, 2021

POA comes out with ‘facts’ about athletes’ performance

July 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has finally come out with the facts on the Pakistan contingent’s participation and performance in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.

The POA in a handout on Tuesday said that the national Olympic Committee is proud of Talha Talib’s performance that resulted in his 5th position in the 67kg weightlifting category.

“Talha has done us proud. Had the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) lived up to its responsibilities we would have seen Talha on the Podium along with Joseph Gulfam and others who will be there in the days to come.

“Right at the outset let us make certain aspects very clear. The POA is not responsible for the sports development in the country. This is the responsibility of the PSB and they state it also as such in their own rules which are available on their website (http://www.sports.gov.pk). Some important rules are reproduced below for ease of understanding: ‘To promote and develop standards of national fitness as well as standards of competition, comparable to the International standards.

“‘To encourage, promote and undertake all such measures that would assist in the development of sports in Pakistan.

“‘To arrange and secure foreign training facilities and scholarships for Pakistani coaches, sports organizations and sportsmen.

“’To sponsor and provide administrative and financial support for exchange of sports teams, coaches, organizers and delegations with various countries at international level.

“‘To construct, develop and maintain the National Stadia, Gymnasia, Sports Training and Coaching Centres, Squash Courts, Golf Courses and other play fields.’

“It is our stated position, duly conveyed to the concerned quarters on multiple occasions, that the existing facilities and financial support for our sportspersons are the lowest in the region.

“On May 31, 2021 the POA categorically stated its concerns vide a press release about the surrendered Rs440 million and that too in the Olympic year. This money could and should have been utilized for further specialized training of those athletes who had qualified on their own steam.

“It could have been utilized to assist other athletes who were capable of qualifying but could not do so as their federations do not have the resources.

“Had this been done Talha and Gulfam may have been on the podium at Tokyo. Inam and Bilal (wrestling) were not supported the way elite athletes should be. Others like Saadi Abbas lacked the resources to train and qualify. The grant from the amount not surrendered was doled out at the end of the financial year with no basis or criteria of allotment and was therefore frittered away. The POA president in the meeting of Pakistan Sports Board held in September 2020 requested Minister for IPC to ensure financial support to athletes who have qualified so as to try for a podium finish and for those who are in the process/capable of qualification.

“He also requested for provision of international standard equipment for the qualified athletes to train with. He was categorically told that a summary has been moved for the approval of the PM. This unfortunately later proved to be not true. Had the funds been provided to athletes, more athletes including Muhammad Inam and Muhammad Bilal from wrestling could have qualified. It is the sole discretion of the governmental authorities to decide whether there is any need to create a supporting system for elite athletes or not.

“POA, through IOC, managed scholarships and financial support for athletes that have benefited all the three qualified shooters, Talha Talib and Bismah Khan who are part of the Pakistan contingent at Tokyo 2020. The total amount of IOC financial support for athletes is $242,000. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the IOC for their support. Apart from these scholarships, POA funded the complete contingent for its travelling and Covid-19 testing for participation in the Games although this was always funded by the PSB as per their mandate. Even the dope testing prior to departure was financed by POA especially through the provision of kits as the government has not funded the National Anti-Doping Organization of Pakistan at the right time although it is required to do so as per the requirements of WADA and the UN.

“POA’s exclusive domain is to monitor observance of Olympic Charter and WADA Code in Pakistan.

“We strongly condemn baseless and misleading information being spread about Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and its office bearers. POA is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation entrusted to promote Olympic Values in Pakistan. POA has to remain within its domain as defined in Olympic Charter. It is categorically stated that neither the POA gets any financial support from the government nor its elected office-bearers are paid employees instead they serve on a voluntary basis. We strongly believe that certain quarters are spreading disinformation about POA to divert attention from the main issues like lack of resources and infrastructure for sports in Pakistan and for certain ulterior motives to malign institutions including POA. The POA will continue to discharge its obligations as entrusted in the Olympic Charter.”