LAHORE: Pakistan’s participation in the Commonwealth Games with a full-strength contingent was confirmed Monday with the Pakistan Olympic Association and involved sports federations deciding to share the financial burden for the event with the country’s sports board.

A total of 103 athletes will represent Pakistan at the Games — set to be held from July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham, England — out of which the expenses of 56 will be borne by the Pakistan Sports Board, 27 will be supported by their respective sports federations while 20 members of the national women’s cricket team will be backed by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The development meant Pakistan’s badminton squad, which was dropped by the PSB earlier, is set to feature at the Games.

The decision was taken in an “emergent” POA’s Executive Committee meeting on Saturday after the PSB had refused to take responsibility for the full contingent proposed by the POA and the federations.

The PSB had also cut short the originally decided, 114-member strong contingent for the Islamic Solidarity Games — scheduled to kick off on August 9 in Konya, Turkey — to 73. However, in Saturday’s meeting the POA and the federations decided to bear the expenses of the remaining 41 athletes.

The POA, however, criticised the PSB for demonstrating “no rationale” in imposing what it termed arbitrary cuts “without consulting any of the stakeholders”.

“The Executive Committee (EC) during its deliberation expressed serious concerns at the irrational and drastic reductions in the athletes and in some cases the replacement of officials other than those recommended by the Federations,” said a POA press release on Monday.

“This reduction without any cogent or plausible reason was noted by the Athlete’s Commission representative who termed this as a very unfortunate development for those athletes who were working hard for years.

“The EC noted with great concern that these actions by the PSB and that too at this very belated stage have put in peril their participation leaving no choice but to opt for high cost travelling and other arrangements.”

The Pakistan contingent, which will feature the likes of Olympic javelin throw finalist Arshad Nadeem and wrestler Inam Butt, will depart for Birmingham on July 23. The women’s cricket team will join the group after the completion of their ongoing tri-series in Ireland.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022

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