Again blowing a setback to gymnasts of our country, the sports ministry has rejected the Gymnastics Federation of India’s (GFI) appeal to grant recognition. The appeal came on the ground that it violated the National Sports Development Code 2011, when fresh elections of the GFI office bearers were conducted on November 5 last year.
The GFI has remained derecognised in the country since 2011 owing to a decade of controversy and conflict between two factions. The last officially recognised senior national competition was held in 2011-2012.
The sports ministry in its latest decision has stated that the GFI has flouted the eligibility norms during its election. The sports code states that for office bearers who have served two consecutive terms need a cooling-off period of four years before they are eligible again. This clause was allegedly overlooked when S Shantikumar Singh was elected secretary general.
“He served two terms in office from 2011-2015 and 2015-2019. Therefore isn’t eligible for third term without a break,” the ministry informed the GFI in its letter issued on April 27, and went on to point out a second case of ineligibility.
Singh didn’t respond to calls or text messages, while GFI president Sudhir Mittal agreed it’s a big setback. The ministry’s stand is clear--remove the ineligible candidates and then seek recognition.
In a conversation with Hindustan Times, Bishweshwar Nandi, who coaches Dipa Karmakar, said, “The newly appointed body was supposed to streamline the system, but the standoff with the government is a big problem." Nandi believes grassroots development and age-group programmes will continue to suffer.