Indian Olympic Association on Friday described the exclusion of shooting, wrestling and archery from the initial programme of 2026 Commonwealth Games as "shocking" and asked the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for a discussion in the matter at its next General Assembly.
In a letter to CGF President Louise Martin, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta expressed dismay at the dropping of the "three popular sports in the world" from the initial list of 16 sports for the 2026 CWG in Australia. "It is really shocking for CGA India to know that these three very popular sports in the sporting world were ignored by the CGF," Mehta wrote in the letter.
"The CGA India strongly recommends for inclusion of shooting, wrestling and archery as part of 2026 CWG sports programme. "We request to include our request in the agenda of the next CGF General Assembly so that it can be discussed and take favourable decisions by the House," he added.
Mehta said since the 2026 CWG are being organised at multiple cities in Australia, the host country "could not have any reservation to conduct these three sports also". Mehta had earlier termed the exclusion of the three sports from the initial programme of CWG as "grave injustice" to the country and said the IOA will decide the future course of action after consulting with the sports ministry.
Without shooting and wrestling, India's CWG medal tally is likely to be reduced drastically. Shooting has been India's strongest sport in the Commonwealth Games with 135 medals (63 gold, 44 silver and 28 bronze) till now. Wrestling is in third spot with 102 (43 gold, 37 silver and 22 bronze) medals.
In the last CWG in Gold Coast (Australia) in 2018, shooting and wrestling together accounted for 28 medals out of the country's total tally of 66. Shooting gave 16 medals (7 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze) while wrestling contributed 12 (5 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze).
On April 12, Victoria was announced as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games with the Australian state's regional centres organising the majority of events in a break from the traditional single host city model. An initial list of 16 sports, including T20 cricket, have been put forward for the Games, with further sports to be added later this year.
If the Australian organisers want to exclude shooting, wrestling and archery from the Games, it will be difficult to reverse such a decision as the CGF General Assembly had approved in October last year a new 'strategic roadmap' under which athletics and swimming will be the only compulsory sports from the 2026 edition.
The host cities have been given greater freedom to include disciplines of their choice from a proposed core list of 22 sports. The core list includes shooting, wrestling and archery, besides T20 cricket, beach volleyball and 3x3 basketball.
In 2019, the IOA had threatened to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games to be held from July 28 to August 8 this year after shooting's exclusion from the programme. The threat was withdrawn after the CGF agreed to stage a separate Commonwealth Shooting Championship (as well as Commonwealth Archery Championship) in India with the medals from the event to be counted in the final standings of the Birmingham Games.
The shooting (as well as archery) championships were to be held in Chandigarh in January this year but cancelled due to the "uncertainty" posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.