Chances of Indian gymnasts, including 2016 Olympian Dipa Karmakar, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics is virtually over with the cancellation of series of World Cups which were part of the Olympic qualification program.
The world governing body of gymnastics, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) had to cancel two world cups and postpone another one because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The recent surge of coronavirus cases in led to the cancellation of the Cottbus World Cup, scheduled to start on February 25, and the World Cup scheduled in Baku, Azerbaijan, from March 4. Besides, the Doha World Cup, an Olympic qualifier starting from March 10, has been postponed.
An athlete needs to participate in three Olympic qualifiers (World Cups) and need to achieve 90 points to qualify for Olympics. While India's best bet "Dipa Karmakar has less than half of that points. We are now waiting for the world body to officially say something," said Dipa's Dronacharya awardee coach Bisheswar Nandi to IANS.
The sports ministry that has only now considered restoring the recognisition of the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) as a National Sports Federation (NSF) is also too late to do any damage control for Indian Olympic qualification.
In a letter to the GFI president, the Sports Ministry mentioned that the elections of two office bearers -- Sudhir Mittal (President) and Kaushik Bidiwala (Treasurer) -- for the term 2019- 2023 have been taken on record of the Ministry.
The letter also mentioned that the decision on the acceptance of the election of S Shanti Kumar Singh as general secretary will be taken after Manipur High Court's judgment in the writ petition filed by S Shanti Kumar Singh. Further, the election of Parmeshwar Prajapat as executive Member will be accepted by the Department subject to verification of NOC and other facts from his employer.
Because of the brewing politics, no national camps have been hosted and players have been left to fend for their own. Dipa had aggravated her knee injury in March 2019. Following her rehabilitation, she didn't compete in any international events. While Dipa has been training in Agartala, Aruna Reddy, India's 2018 World Cup bronze medallist in Melbourne, has shifted her focus to the World Championships in October, with no hopes remaining for the Olympics.
The division of factions and petty politics within the GFI has led to the malfunctioning of the system whose foundation got a big impetud when Dipa stood fourth in the Rio Olympics 2016. Dipa's feat raised the profile of gymnastics in India but the sports ministry had derecognised the Gymnastics Federation of India in 2019 for allegedly not following the Sports Code 2011 at the body's elections.