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The 19th National Para Athletics Championship is set to begin today in Bengaluru. Para athletes from 27 states and union territories will take part in the events to be held at two venues – the Sree Kanteerava Stadium and Vidyanagar Stadium.
More than 900 Athletes in different categories for both men and women would compete in 159 events scheduled over a period of three days. However, the way the tournament is being hosted is marred with controversy. Initially scheduled to be held in Chennai from March 24-27, was shifted at short notice on March 20, causing trouble to the preparation of the para-athlete. All this happened, while they were en-route Chennai.
Despite knowing the fact that para-athletes with visual impairment and other disabilities would find it difficult to move around, the decision was taken by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). PCI's secretary-general told ESPN, it was not the corporation but the principal secretary of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu that denied them permission for the use of Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The PCI, after initially asking athletes to make their own arrangements for accommodation, have now acted by promising hotels within 2kms vicinity of the Kanteerava Stadium. "We had all reached Chennai and then forced to make plans again to reach Bengaluru," said Nidhi Mishra, a 2018 Para Asian Games bronze medallist in discus throw. "It is not safe in these times of a pandemic." "Now I have received a message [about hotels being provided] and it is a big relief. But forget the extra money and time [we had to spend]. What about mental stress? There can be no compensation for that," Nidhi told The Hindu.
Elite Para Athletes namely Mariyapan T, Rio Paralympic Gold Medalist, Varun Singh Bhati, Rio Paralympic Bronze Medalist, Sandeep Chaudhary World Record Holder in Men's Javelin F 44 Category, Sundar Singh Gurjar World Champion F 46 Javelin, Navdeep Singh F 40 Javelin, Amit Saroha F 51 Men's Club throw, Ekta Bayan F 52 Women's Club Throw, Simran T 13 Women's 100/200 meters are a few internationally acclaimed Para Athletes that will be seen in action. Many athletes had to bear the financial burden also for the change in venue as they had to bear the travel expense.