NEW DELHI: Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin has said that the Indian Olympic Association is not attending the regional meetings of the international sports body where it could have raised the issue of non-inclusion of certain sports in the CWG.
The IOA, however, said it is difficult to attend these meetings which do not have in the agenda matters relating to India’s grievances of leaving out shooting, wrestling and archery from the Commonwealth Games roster.
Martin wrote a letter in response to IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta’s request to include shooting, wrestling and archery in 2026 CWG to be held in Australia.
“The 2026 CWG is also a subject that has been discussed regularly at the CGA regional meetings in recent months. We have been sorry not to see regular attendance from Commonwealth Games India (CGI) and we should welcome increased engagement with you because CGI is an important leader in our movement,” Martin said in the letter to Mehta.
IOA represents India at the Commonwealth Games Asia regional meetings.
Suggesting that these regional meetings provide the best opportunity for IOA to discuss non-inclusion of certain sports, Martin said, “The three sports you have referred to are all Commonwealth Games core sports, which we have a strong and long standing relationship with”.
She further said the CGF has already been in touch with all the three international federations (the ISSF, UWW and World Archery) to make clear that it will update them on the next phase of the process as soon as it has been finalized in partnership with new hosts.
Speaking on the letter written by Martin, Mehta said IOA wants to attend the meetings but there should be an assurance that the three sports in which India has been traditionally strong would be included in the 2026 CWG roster.
“We want to attend meetings but is there any effort to look into and solve our long standing grievances? Are our grievances being put up on the agenda of meetings to be discussed? We want to ensure that sports like shooting, wrestling and archery are included in CWG roster,” Mehta said.
Citing the case of this year’s Birmingham CWG, Mehta said, “Shooting and archery are not in the roster of 2022 CWG. After our protest, a championship each of shooting and archery were arranged which were to be canceled due to COVID-19. This would not have happened had these two sports been in the initial roster”.
Mehta also aired his unhappiness at the lack of Indian representation in the committees and sub-committees of the CGF.
Asserting that IOA is for cordial relationship, Mehta said, “We are in contact with CGF chief and officials as well as international federations of these three sports. We are for a cordial relationship and not for confrontation”.
Martin said further sports are to be added to the 2026 CWG later this year but did not give any assurance or hint that shooting, wrestling and archery could be included in the Games.
“Our ambition is for this process to be concluded around December 2022, when we hope to be in a position to confirm and announce the additional sports on the programme,” she wrote.
On April 22, Mehta wrote a letter to Martin, describing the exclusion of shooting, wrestling and archery from the initial program of the 2026 Commonwealth Games as “shocking” and requested the CGF for a discussion in the matter at its next General Assembly.
Mehta expressed dismay at the dropping of the “three popular sports in the world” from the initial list of 16 sports for the 2026 CWG in Australia.
Without shooting and wrestling, India’s CWG medal tally is likely to be reduced drastically. Shooting has been India’s strongest sport in the Commonwealth Games with 135 medals (63 gold, 44 silver and 28 bronze) till now.
Wrestling is in third spot with 102 (43 gold, 37 silver and 22 bronze) medals.
In the last CWG in Gold Coast (Australia) in 2018, shooting and wrestling had together accounted for 28 medals out of the country’s total tally of 66.
On April 12, Victoria was announced as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games with the Australian state’s regional centers organizing the majority of events in a break from the traditional single host city model.
An initial list of 16 sports, including T20 cricket, have been put forward for the Games, with further sports to be added later this year.
In 2019, the IOA had threatened to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games to be held from July 28 to August 8 this year after shooting’s exclusion from the programme.
The threat was withdrawn after the CGF agreed to stage a separate Commonwealth Shooting Championship (as well as Commonwealth Archery Championship) in India with the medals from the event to be counted in the final standings of the Birmingham Games.
The shooting (as well as archery) championships were to be held in Chandigarh in January this year but canceled due to the “uncertainty” posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.