LAHORE: Though the country failed to perform well at the South Asian Games, mainly due to the four-year long tussle between two groups in the Pakistan Olympic Association, a complete mismanagement in sending the contingent to Shillong and Guwahati also affected the athletes’ performance, it has emerged.

Pakistan finished a poor third (106 medals, 12 gold, 37 silver, 57 bronze) on the medals table at the South Asian Games behind toppers India (380, 188 gold, 90 silver, 30 bronze) and Sri Lanka (186, 25 gold, 63 silver, 98 bronze).

Some athletes and coaches who returned home were not happy over the way the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) sent them to India for the regional extravaganza.

“We received the tickets of a foreign airline, which took almost 84 hours to reach Guwahati or Shillong and just one day later there was the opening ceremony of the games,” some players based in Lahore told Dawn.

“The airline first took us to Doha where we had to remain at the airport for 12 hours and from there we were brought to Kolkata, where we stayed for 12 to 16 hours,” they stated.

It all caused fatigue to the athletes which badly affected their fitness during this unnecessary long and painful journey, they further said.

“More interestingly, the PSB officials decided for themselves a logical route for the same destination. They went to Amritsar via Wagah Border. From Amritsar they went to New Delhi from where a direct flight took them to Shillong or Guwahati easily,” they said.

Moreover, the players said, as the wrestlers and weightlifters had to take extra food to maintain their strength in the 84-hour journey to the host Indian cities, no special arrangements were made in this regard by the authorities concerned.

“Had gold medallist weightlifter Mohammad Nooh Dastagir’s father not arranged special meal for his son and for other weightlifters, the Pakistani weightlifters might not have been able to even stand in the competition,” the players further disclosed.

“When Nooh’s father came to know that the weightlifters have to spend many hours at the airport he asked those responsible whether they had made any special food arrangements for the athletes, particularly for the weightlifters and wrestlers, the reply was negative. He was told that they [weightlifters and wrestlers] will have to depend on the same meal, which the airline offered during the flight,” the players said.

“Upon knowing this, Nooh’s father ordered his son not to board the flight and wait for him. After some time he arrived with tin-packed food for all the weightlifters,” they said.

Interestingly, PSB’s adopted air route for the Games also proved highly expensive — for each player it had to pay Rs170,000.

Had the PSB sent the contingent by road via Wagah Border to Amritsar (as there is no security issue for a Pakistani in Indian Punjab), and from Amritsar via Delhi-Shillong-Guwahati on a plane, the cost of the air travel would have been one-fourth of what was actually incurred.

Earlier, it may be mentioned here, the government had also made a plan to send the 450-strong Pakistan contingent on a chartered plane, an option that was again less expensive than what the PSB paid for the Doha-India route.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2016

Opinion

Courts & the poor
Updated 20 Jun 2021

Courts & the poor

Justice eludes those whose homes have been demolished.
No choice but to leave
20 Jun 2021

No choice but to leave

The influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan is likely to increase again with the US withdrawal.
Cost of enforced modesty
Updated 19 Jun 2021

Cost of enforced modesty

By inviting mullahs to regulate biology textbooks the PTI government has put Pakistan in reverse gear.

Editorial

20 Jun 2021

More vaccines needed

THE vaccination rate in the country has slowed in recent days and could result in a crisis if not addressed...
20 Jun 2021

Balochistan protest

THE clashes outside the Balochistan Assembly on budget day were unfortunate. But they had been waiting to happen. ...
Silent victims
Updated 20 Jun 2021

Silent victims

THE deafening silence of political authorities, including leaders from the religious right, on the Mufti Azizur...
19 Jun 2021

NA peace — for now

AFTER a session of utter pandemonium and a distasteful war of words, normalcy finally returned to the National...
India uranium theft
Updated 19 Jun 2021

India uranium theft

REPORTS emerging from India about the theft of uranium and possible sale on the black market should be a cause for...
19 Jun 2021

KCR rigmarole

THURSDAY’S proceedings in the Supreme Court clearly demonstrated how divided the stakeholders are when it comes to...