India’s pistol ace Heena Sidhu said on Monday, said the popularity of the sport can be affected in the wake of the Indian Olympic Association’s proposal to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games for dropping the sport from its roster. In a press statement, the former World Number 1 pistol shooter said:
Not having shooting at the 2022 Commonwealth Games would hit the players’ morale. At this time when we still have three years, we have to lobby and come up with solutions. It is a tricky situation and a very tough decision to make. I am sure the government, the Indian Olympic Association and the National Rifle Association of India are doing their best to get shooting inducted in the Games, and will arrive at the best decision keeping the interest of the sport and all athletes in mind.
I appreciate Indian Olympic Association’s stand for the shooters. It shows that IOA is standing behind us strongly.
Talking about boycotting the Games, I think it would be unfair to other athletes. Boycott is a strong word and if I was one of the athletes who was not a shooter, I would feel bad. At the same time, I would want to see shooting as a part of the Commonwealth Games and we should do everything possible to get the sport inducted. I think I am going to take IOA’s decision in the light that they are trying to do everything possible to get shooting back into the CWG 2022.
Commonwealth Games are a big event for any athlete and it helps them prepare better for the Olympic Games. Shooting is still on the optional games list, which means any host country can decide to chop shooting off. We need to make sure that in the long run shooting comes into the permanent list so that no host country can cut down shooting.
Shooting has always been a big sport at the Commonwealth Games and we do bring lot of medals and add to India’s ranking. Because of that a lot of youngsters see people winning medals on the TV and in newspapers, and it inspires them to take up the sport. Even the parents’ mindset has changed. So if you take out shooting from the Commonwealth Games, it can affect its popularity. We need talent coming into the sport. For a sport like shooting which is not considered very spectator friendly, winning medals is the only way to showcase our talent to youngsters and inspire them to take up the sport.