THE Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is the custodian of the National Games and for whatever may be the reason(s), it has failed to organise the spectacle for the last six years. The last National Games took place in Lahore six years ago.
The 33rd National Games were allotted to Balochistan and supposed to take place at Quetta in 2014 but were postponed time and again allegedly for a couple of factors.
It is an irony that the budding youth of the country who were knocking at the door to feature in the Games in 2012, are past their prime and may not be able to deliver their best even if the extravaganza sees the light of the day next year or in 2020.
There is a likelihood that a generation of athletes may retire without appearing in the National Games.
Launched in Karachi in April 1948, the National Games were originally a biennial event and such a long gap has occurred for the first time.
The Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had the honour of inaugurating the maiden Games at Karachi’s formerly Polo Ground.
It is unfortunate that only four National Games have taken place in the last 14 years of the incumbent POA President retired Lt Gen Arif Hasan’s era instead of seven.
Besides, the POA has also failed to launch the National Beach Games despite the fact that it regularly sends the teams to compete in Asian Beach Games since its inception at Bali, Indonesia, in 2008.
Five Asian Beach Games have taken place so far. It would have been better that National Beach Games serve as criteria for selection of Pakistan squad for the regional Beach Games.
The POA chief must have forgotten that long ago he had announced to launch the National School’s Games but the promise has also remained unfulfilled.
Pakistan had played host to the two South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, both at Islamabad in 1989 and 2004. India and Bangladesh have played hosts to the Games three times each since its inception in Kathmandu in 1984.
While India had hosted at different venues — Calcutta, Chennai and Guwahati and Shillong — Bangladesh had organised at Dhaka.
Besides, Nepal and Sri Lanka have also hosted the games twice apiece. Nepal has also been alotted the 13th edition of the games in 2019.
There’s likelihood that Pakistan may be awarded the 14th SAF Games. “Will it again take place at Islamabad for the third time”.
There’s no long term plan of constructing Olympic stadia in Lahore and Karachi in sight to shift the scene of the SAF Games to other cities.
It’s imperative that all stake holders, PSB, POA and the ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) put their heads together for the revival of sports in the country instead of blaming each other.
After getting governments nod for constructing new Olympic stadia in Lahore and Karachi the POA should formally bid for SAF Games.
After creating new infra structure and hosting the SAF Games for the third time, Pakistan can aim to bid for hosting the Asian Games.
Meanwhile, it would be wise that the POA should select Islamabad as permanent venue for hosting the National Games on regular basis and to avoid such long delays. This will serve the interest of athletes.
Meanwhile, the POA hierarchy is due to call on the IPC Minister Fehmida Mirza
in Islamabad on Monday (today) and brief her about Pakistan’s worst-ever performance in the Jakarta Asiad. It is strange that no body is ready to take the responsibility of athletes’ failure.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018