Are we preparing for South Asian Games?

September 13, 2020

The IPC ministry should realise that hosting of the regional sporting spectacle is a matter of our country’s prestige. That’s why the ministry should resolve its differences with POA

The ministry of IPC seems disinterested in launching preparations for the 14th South Asian Games which Pakistan is going to host most probably in early 2022.

I have learnt through sources that the ministry is not interested in meeting with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) to discuss with them various issues of the seven-nation spectacle which Pakistan will be hosting for the third time in history.

According to sources, the POA needs some guarantees from the government which the NOC has to submit to the South Asian Olympic Council Executive Committee. Some of these guarantees are that there will be no immigration hindrances for the visiting contingents, the touring parties will bring their equipment without any custom duty and will carry them back home without any obstruction.

The host government also has to guarantee that the touring contingents will be given accommodation and transport facilities. There are also some other matters for which guarantees have to be given by the state.

If the IPC ministry fails to act accordingly and promptly the Games’ hosting rights could be given to Sri Lanka, which is all ready for staging the Games.

This is indeed a complex situation. The IPC ministry should realise that this is a matter of the prestige of the country. The PTI government has a glorious chance to boost the image of the country by staging the Games in the most befitting way under its sportsman leader, Prime Minister Imran Khan. I don’t think Imran Khan will tolerate any sort of hindrance in the way of staging these Games if he is informed.

There are so many things which have to be done by the state. In the budget, a huge amount has already been allocated for infrastructure development for the Games. Then why is the IPC ministry showing reluctance in meeting the POA to sort out various issues pertaining to the Games?

Infrastructure development needs a lot of time. And if the spectacle is staged at Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi, Islamabad and other cities simultaneously then preparation must be started now. Otherwise, it would be too late.

The edition was actually scheduled next year but because of the sports calendar’ disruption due to COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan can ask for some time. But it all depends on the South Asian Olympic Council which is expected to hold a virtual meeting in near future.

Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) will have to purchase equipment for the Games as the available stock is too old.

POA and IPC should reach a consensus on where the Games should be held. The POA wants to use different cities for various disciplines so that big crowds could be attracted. Things could only be settled if POA and IPC sit together before it is too late.

The IPC ministry also needs to support preparatory camps for South Asian Games through its subordinate body, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

The state officials have been lethargic in resuming sports activities although the government has lifted restrictions.

Being the hosts, we need a comprehensive plan to prepare the home contingent in order to impress in the biennial spectacle. We need to arrange foreign tours, hire foreign coaches, host joint training sessions in certain disciplines and work wholeheartedly on the athletes’ build-up. Once Pakistan used to finish second in these Games behind India but now Sri Lanka and Nepal have been showing strength. Pakistan finished fourth in the Games held in Nepal last year. This is a sorry state of affairs. We will have to raise our standard. India’s presence in the South Asian Games makes the spectacle highly competitive as India is touching world standard in a number of disciplines. To beat them, we must ensure quality preparation for our players.

One and a half years is too little. A meeting of all stakeholders should be convened immediately to discuss various issues relating to the SAG preparation.

As Pakistan is going to host SAG after a long time, there is a need to take extra steps to conduct the spectacle in a grand way.

Nations want to host such events as it enables them to build infrastructure which benefits them for decades. If successful Games are to be conducted key stakeholders will have to join hands. Let’s hope things go well and Pakistan successfully hosts the Games for the third time.

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Are we preparing for South Asian Games?