Shooting legend Rajmond Debevec hits out at ISSF and Abhinav Bindra

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New Delhi, Feb 28: The ISSF and its athlete's committee, headed by Abhinav Bindra, today, February 28, received brickbats from three-time Olympic medallist Rajmond Debevec, who said gender equality in 2020 Olympics could have been achieved without scrapping the existing three events.

According to the International Olympic Association's Agenda 2020, all international sports federations are to make changes to their sport to promote gender equality by the Tokyo Games.

ISSF official logo

In line with the IOC directive, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) has proposed some changes, where double trap along with men's rifle prone and 50m pistol are likely to be dropped from the Olympics to allow new events that will see more women participation at the Olympic Games.

The recommendations came from the athletes committee, led by the Indian Olympian champion. "I, as a shooter, feel offended because the ISSF led this procedure and accepted the recommendations in a nontransparent manner. I feel there was a lack of democracy.

"The statutory rules of the ISSF demands that such a crucial change be adopted in the general assembly, which was not the case here," Debevec, a gold medal winner at the Sydney Olympics besides being a five-time World Championship medallist, told PTI.

"It should be voted and adopted in the general assembly, but this decision was kept a secret, and the whole procedure was only brought within a small number of senior ISSF officials.

"That is my biggest concern. I am all for gender equality in Olympics but this could be achieved in a different way, in a way that nobody gets hurt.

"These are very, very respected events which had been part of Olympics programs since the inception of modern Olympics. I would accept any decision brought in a democratic, transparent manner," he added.

The Slovenian legend, 53, is in the capital for the ongoing season-opening ISSF World Cup and when the rifle prone event was in progress at the Dr Karni Singh Range, Debevec led calls for the prone event to be kept in Olympics.

"Actually, the athletes committee also voted and I was very disappointed because the members of athletes committee are supposed to represent the whole shooting community.

"And they should not vote to axe, for example, double trap from Olympic program because double trap has no member in athletes committee.

"Obviously this was against the principle that they represent, and it is disappointing. This is discrimination to those shooters who have no representative in this committee.

"And also I see here conflict of interest because some of the shooters benefited from this decision because trap shooters now have an additional event to shoot in the Olympics at the expense of double trap," he said on the sidelines of the tournament.

In his statement announcing the recommendations, Bindra had been quoted as saying, "The guiding principle was to look at (the) situation in a holistic manner which would be beneficial in (the) long term for the shooting sport in order for us to maintain our presence in the Olympic movement."

Debevec was not on the same page, though he "respects Debevec was not on the same page, though he "respects (Bindra) for his fantastic accomplishments" in shooting sport.

"Abhinav Bindra, with all due respect to his fantastic shooting career, his accomplishments, did not do the right thing.

"I had the opportunity to shoot together with him in competitions, he was really a champion and, unfortunately, he quit shooting after the Rio Games.

"But I think his responsibility as chairman of athletes committee is really big and he didn't do the right job," he said.

"He is very much pro changes and I disagree with him on this. The athletes committee is made up of shooters, these representatives are elected and they do not necessarily represent the opinion of the entire shooting community.

"I have full respect for his shooting career, I know he is the only Indian individual Olympic gold medallist. But in this case," added Debevec. The recommendations have been approved by ISSF, and are to be ratified by IOC.

PTI

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