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Ministry wants participation of para-athletes under tri-colour


New Delhi:  The ban on PCI notwithstanding, Sports Ministry has requested the International Paralympic Committee to allow Indian athletes to participate in world competitions under the country’s national flag.

Soon after the IPC suspended the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) on April 17 due to internal bickering, the Sports Ministry followed suit and de-recognised the PCI for shabby treatment of para-athletes during the National Para-Athletics Championships in Ghaziabad in March.

However, in a big boost to the para-athletes, the International Paralympic Committee on Tuesday gave them permission to compete at competitions under the IPC flag inspite of the ban slapped on the national body.

In response to a letter written by the IPC CEO, Xavier Gonzalez, the Ministry has also urged the international body that those who are not included under the Sport Data Management System (SDMS) may be permitted to participate in these competitions.

“The letter sent today to Gonzalez has deeply appreciated IPC’s support for para-athletes and para-sports in India. It said that para-sports in India is at a nascent stage and needs to be encouraged in every possible manner,” the Ministry said in the letter to IPC.

“Govt. of India has been providing all possible support to para-athletes and para-sports and if any restriction is imposed on participation of Indian athletes and if they are not allowed to compete under the National Flag of India, they will feel demotivated and this will be a huge setback to the efforts being made by the Government for promotion of para- sports in the country,” it added in the letter.

Earlier, Gonzalez, in his letter to Sports Ministry dated May 18, had mentioned that to avoid penalising Indian athletes, IPC has decided to enable athletes who are already licensed in SDMS system to participate in competitions. It also said that these athletes will not represent their country but will be competing under the IPC flag for the moment.

The Ministry letter said till the time, the IPC decides on the constitution of an ad-hoc body to administer para-sports in India, the entries of the athletes may be allowed to be routed through the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

It said that SAI has the knowledge and expertise in handling matters relating to participation of athletes in international events including conduct of coaching camps for such athletes.

The Ministry also said its suggestions on formation of the ad-hoc committee to administer para-sports in India would be sent shortly to IPC.

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