Wednesday September 22, 2021

‘POA, PSB rift calls for PM’s intervention’

September 15, 2021

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan should intervene to resolve the conflict between Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) regarding the country’s performance at Tokyo Olympics.

A member of the executive committee of POA said while talking to ‘The News’ that the PM’s intervention was the only solution to this conflict.

“The conflict started with the Covid vaccination of the national contingent,” he added.

He said POA sent a letter to PSB in the first week of February this year for the vaccination and PSB asked it on February 10 to send the data of the contingent.

“The data were provided immediately. After more than three months (on May 17) the PSB asked POA to send athletes and officials for vaccination to PSB Islamabad when most of them had already been vaccinated,” he added.

Later, he added, Arshad Nadeem got infected and missed his training for two weeks. “The weakness must have affected his performance. Who is responsible for this negligence? POA or PSB?” asked the official.

“Under the strict guidelines, the travel details and activity plans (essential places for visit by each participant) were to be submitted to the Organising Committee at least 30 days before the arrival in Japan.

“The activity plan of each participant was approved by the Japanese government according to which each athlete/official could enter Japan a maximum of 5 days before the start of the particular sport and had to leave within 48 hours of the competition of their match,” said the member.

He added that PSB informed the federations of the air travel booking only a few days before their departure which was different from the bookings made by POA and had been intimated to the Organising Committee as per laid down conditions.

“Had POA not made these flight bookings in advance and informed the Organising Committee, no one from Pakistan would have been able to participate in the Olympics.

“PSB claimed that they were bound to follow PPRA Rules. What stopped them from initiating the process two to three months in advance,” asked the member.

He added the PM formed a committee headed by Ehsan Mani to prepare a report on how to improve the standard of sports in Pakistan.

“The committee submitted its report to the government but the report was kept secret for almost two years,” said the official.

Regarding the national Sports Policy, which is another bone of contention between POA and PSB, he said the draft of the new Sports Policy had been circulated about one month ago seeking comments from national sports federations.

“One federation asked which conditions of the 2005 sports policy had been fulfilled by PSB and the sports federations and which conditions remained unfulfilled but PSB did not answer this important question,” he added.

He added that after the 18th amendment the development of sports was transferred to the provinces which included handing over of PSB’s existing facilities in different cities to the provinces but this had not been done.

The Ministry of IPC and PSB finalised the new policy and sent it to the PM, he said.

Moreover, he added, POA appointed Dr Asad Abbas Shah as the official doctor of the national contingent. “Arshad Nadeem while speaking at the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo said that he had a severe elbow injury and had told his coach one month before the Olympics that he was not ready to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

“He clearly said that if Dr Asad had not treated his elbow injury in Pakistan and during training and competition in Tokyo, he would not have been able to participate in the Olympics,” he added.

He said the National Rifle Association of Pakistan requested PSB and IPC for the provision of funds to arrange a foreign coach and training for the shooters who had qualified for the Olympics.

“No approval was given for one year. Finally, it was approved on a case to case basis in January 2021. But that was too late to get the services of any world class shooting coach,” said the member.

He said Talha Talib’s manager/coach Hafiz Imran was able to get the best ever performance out of his athlete in the Olympics but he was being portrayed as a villain.

“Arshad had a throw which was two metre less than his previous best but his coach was portrayed as a hero and rewarded with cash prizes,” he added.

Besides, he said, three athletes were found guilty of doping offences in the 2019 SAF Games. “But President AFP refused to send the concerned athletes and coaches to appear in front of the Inquiry Committee. Later, POA suspended AFP and its president. But the same suspended person who lost POA Presidential Elections twice in a democratic process has been kept in the forefront by PSB and IPC,” said the member.