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''Athletes forgotten in the chaos of committees and infrastructure''

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 9 (UNI) Amid the chaos of umpteen committees and the frenzied planning for tunnels, stadia, highways and over-bridge for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the organisers have forgotten the sportspersons, alleged a senior Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official.

IOA Senior Vice President VK Malhotra today alleged that over-emphasis on infrastructure had shifted the focus away from the sportspersons and the exercise was bound to have a reflection on the medal tally when the Capital hosts the Games.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Malhotra, also President of the Archery Association of India, pointed out to the various committees and sub-committees set up for the event and said, ''The confusion only increases. There was this Commonwealth Games Organising Committee under Suresh Kalmadi, a Group of Ministers under Union Minister Arjun Singh, a Coordination Committee chaired by the Lt Governor of Delhi, a High-Power Apex Committee under the Sports Minister and various other committees of Finance, HRD and Sports ministries, besides in DDA, NDMC, MCD and others.

''To add more confusion to the already chaotic situation, one more Department of International Sports Coordination is being created under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport. Now having committees with overlapping powers would be counter-productive,'' he said.

Mr Malhotra has already sent a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and sought his intervention to ensure that the athletes' preparation gets its due share of attention.

''I've sent two letters to the Prime Minister saying that creation of committees after committees and the total neglect of the athletes' preparation won't do any good. Unfortunately, the letters have been acknowledged only and no action has been taken,'' he rued.

''It is amazing to know that the Delhi government plans to spend Rs 26,808 crore for the Games preparation for which Rs 770 crore will be given as central assistance. Similarly, Delhi Development Authority is planning to spend Rs 1082 crores for various projects at Akshardham, for which they will get Rs 446 crore as central assistance.

''But when it comes to nurturing of the talents, their training and exposure, you have to work in a shoe-string budget and with an upper ceiling of the athletes' tour abroad. There is no allocation in the budget for preparing the talents and no wonder, we are sliding down the overall rankings,'' he explained.

''Infrastructure is always welcome but only that can't win you medals. If not 10 per cent, at least five per cent of the entire Games infrastructure budget should be spent for developing training facilities and grooming of the talents,'' Mr Malhotra said, adding ''Allocation under sports in the annual budget should be enhanced to Rs 1000 crores.'' UNI AY SB BST1355

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