Rio prospects hit as funds di­verted to SAF Games

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HINDUSTAN TIMES - Navneet Singh let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: In­dia’s Rio Olympics prospects could be af­fected af­ter the Cen­tre di­verted more than Rs 100 crore from funds ear­marked for train­ing, to host the South Asian Fed­er­a­tion (SAF) Games in poll-bound As­sam, the home state of Union sports min­is­ter Sar­bananda Sonowal.

The SAF Games were held in Guwa­hati and Megha­laya cap­i­tal Shil­long in Fe­bru­ary, barely two months ahead of the as­sem­bly polls in As­sam on April 4 and 9.

Sonowal, the BJP’s chief min­is­te­rial can­di­date, had pushed for hold­ing the Games in the state where the party is mak­ing an all-out bid to cap­ture power for the first time.

Re­peated ef­forts to reach the sport min­is­ter failed as he was busy cam­paign­ing in As­sam. His of­fice staff promised to get back with a re­sponse but didn’t.

Of­fi­cials at the Sports Au­thor­ity of In­dia (SAI) — the govern­ment body which trains play­ers for ma­jor events — said the sit­u­a­tion was not en­cour­ag­ing at re­gional train­ing cen­tres in­clud­ing Pa­tiala and Ben­galuru where the core group of ath­letes is train­ing. “The cur­rent funds will last six to eight weeks. The sit­u­a­tion will worsen if (more) funds don’t come in soon,” a se­nior SAI of­fi­cial told HT on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

CON­TIN­UED ON P9

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