For the Asian Games, Eighty-three athletes were asked to pay from their own pockets for their opening and closing ceremony uniform, as well as, competition kits.
It seems like the Indian Olympic Association cannot seem to stay away. In a yet another questionable decision, the IOA had asked all the non-affiliate sportspersons to pay for their blazers and kits for the upcoming Asian Games.
However, after the grievances of various federations reached the desk of Sports Minister Rathore, he decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Eight sporting disciplines were affected by the IOA’s decision, namely- Bridge, Sports Climbing, Sepak Takraw, Sambo, Soft Tennis, Pencak Silat, Roller Skating, and Kurash. Out of the Five Hundred and Forty-One participants, Eighty-Three comes under the banner of the non-affiliated sports.
As a result, those Eighty-Three sportspersons, along with their coaches and officials would have had to bear the costs of their equipment. The equipment includes ceremony attires, competition kits, training equipment, and medal ceremony uniform. Furthermore, IOA made it compulsory for the non-affiliated sports to only use the equipment of its official sponsor- Li Ning.
“They are discriminating against us. Eventually, all athletes are representing the country. We have requested the IOA to reconsider their decision because the expenses are huge,” a Federation official had told The Indian Express. Furthermore, The Indian Express reports that the Federations were merely given the contact details of IOA’s kit vendor and were asked to get their costumes designed directly.
The costs of buying their equipment would have run too high for some of the federations, as the figures are expected to cross into Lakhs. Take, for example, the cost of the ceremonial uniform, which will rack up to Rupees Ten Thousand (10,000). Training gear and clothing for each athlete is set to cost the federations Twenty Thousand (20,000) and Thirty Thousand (30,000) respectively.
Problems would have risen further for the non-affiliate federations, as they have a lack of funding due to them not being mainstream sports.
“Since we are not mainstream sports, our funding isn’t much. But we do not want to put the burden on our athlete. The IOA has said they will inform us of the final decision this week. Hopefully, they will have some mercy on us,” another official told The Indian Express.
Sportspersons who would have failed to produce a ceremonial uniform will not be allowed to walk amongst the Indian contingent in the opening and closing ceremony, whereas, those without the competition kits will be given a penalty.
As the news of this debacle reached Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, he decided to act upon it. The ex-Olympian took to Twitter to announce that none of these federations will have to bear the cost of their equipment.
NO team participating in #AsianGames2018 will have to bear the expenses of kit & uniform by themselves
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) July 31, 2018
Rathore further asked Sports Authority of India and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to issue kits to the non-affiliate federations.
The Eighty-Three sportspersons and their entourage will join the remaining Indian contingent for the 2018 Asian Games, starting on August 5.