Rio prospects hit as funds diverted to SAF Games
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.