IPC, PSB responsible for decline of sports in Pakistan: POA

Published July 28, 2021
Pakistani athletes listen to the Olympic anthem during the flag raising ceremony held at the Olympic village in London on July 25, 2012, two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.  — AFP/File
Pakistani athletes listen to the Olympic anthem during the flag raising ceremony held at the Olympic village in London on July 25, 2012, two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has alleged that the Inter-provincial Ministry (IPC), headed by Fehmida Mirza, and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) are mainly responsible for the decline of sports in the country while the POA is not responsible for sports development in the country.

In a strong statement issued here on Tuesday, the POA also pointed out that the IPC made a false claim that it had sent a summary to the Prime Minister for the preparation of the athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

The POA also criticised the PSB for the unutilised sports funds worth Rs 440 million to the finance ministry and in the Olympic year instead of spending it on the preparations of the athletes for the Tokyo Games.

While the POA hailed the performance of weightlifter Talha Talib at the Olympics, it also leveled serious allegations over the IPC-PSB.

“On Sunday, we witnessed an amazing performance by Talha Talib who secured fifth position in the 67Kg weightlifting event at the world’s most prestigious sporting gala Tokyo 2020. His performance manifests the resolve which not only will encourage his fellow Olympians at Tokyo but those who are working hard to raise the national flag at international arenas in the future,” the POA stated.

“Talha has done us proud. Had the Pakistan Sports Board lived up to its responsibilities, we would have seen Talha on the podium along with talented shooter Joseph Gulfam and the other athletes representing the country.

“Right at the outset, let us make certain aspects very clear. The POA is not responsible for the Sports Development in the country. This is the responsibility of PSB and it is clearly stated in their own rules which are available on their website (http://www.sports.gov.pk),” the POA statement added.

The POA further clarified their organisation is representative of IOC and OCA for Olympic Movement in Pakistan and is mandated to Foster Olympism through Sports and Education.

“It is our stated position, duly conveyed to the concerned quarters on multiple occasions, that the existing facilities and financial support for our sportspersons are the lowest in the region despite which our athletes have made tremendous strides in their respective sports events, as is evident from Talha Talib’s performance.”

“On May 31, 2021 POA categorically stated its concerns vide a rress release about the surrendered Rs. 440 million and that too in the Olympic year. This money could and should have been utilized for further specialized training of those athletes who had qualified on their own steam.

“It could have been utilized to assist other athletes who were capable of qualifying but could not do so as niether they nor their federations have the resources. Fine athletes like Saadi Abbas lacked the resources to train and qualify. The grant from the remaining amount was doled out at the end of the financial year with no basis or criteria of allotment and was therefore frittered away which is a case of too little too late.”

POA said that it managed scholarships and financial support for athletes through IOC that has benefited all the three qualified shooters, Talha Talib and Bismah Khan who are part of the Pakistan Contingent at Tokyo 2020.

“The total amount of IOC Financial Support for Athletes is US$242,000. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the IOC for their support. Apart from these scholarships, POA funded the complete contingent for its travelling and Covid testing for participation in the Tokyo Games although this was the duty of the PSB as per their mandate. Even the dope testing prior to departure was financed by POA, especially through the provision of kits as the Government has not funded the National Anti-Doping Organi­zation of Pakistan although it is required to do so as per the requirements of WADA and the UN. (Reportedly PSB has reimbursed the amount spent by POA for doping to NADO).

“POA has always expressed its readiness to assist and can assume an advisory role if desired by the authorities to establish an elite sports development program however the National Sports Federations shall remain custodian of their Games. POA’s exclusive domain is to monitor observance of Olympic Charter and WADA Code in Pakistan.

“In the end, we strongly condemn baseless and misleading information being spread about POA and its office bearers. POA is a non-governmental and non profit-organisation entrusted to promote Olympic values in Pakistan. POA has to remain within its domain as defined in the Olympic Charter.

“It is categorically stated that neither POA gets any financial support from the Government of Pakistan nor its elected office bearers are paid employees, instead they serve on a voluntary basis,” it concluded.

Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021

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