ISLAMABAD: In what may eventually turn out as an episode of gross professional mismanagement, it has emerged that a couple of Pakistan athletes in Tehran could not participate in the just-concluded 11th Asian Indoor Athletics Championship held in Iran’s capital.

Athletes Shajar Abbas and Jaffar Ashraf — despite reaching Tehran — could not participate in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship held from Feb 17 to 19 while contestants from other countries competed.

The said Pakistan players, it appears, could not get entry on time for participating in the continental event.

According to sources, the Pakistan Sports Board expressing its concerns over the unusual development sought details from the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) on the matter.

“We understand the importance of ensuring the active involvement of our athletes in international competitions, not only for their individual growth and development but also for the promotion of Pakistan’s sporting prowess on the global stage,” a PSB letter addressed to the AFP on Tuesday stated, according to sources.

“In order to gain clarity on the circumstances surrounding the reported non participation of [the] players, [the] federation is required to submit a comprehensive report,” added the PSB letter.

In its set of queries, the PSB asked the AFP to submit the reasons for non-participation of the two athletes despite being present in Iran, the official responsible for ensuring the entry of the players and whether there was a designated manager and official tasked with coordinating the participation. The PSB also asked what measures were in place to ensure proper coordination and oversight the athletes’ participation.

While PSB director general Shoaib Khoso could not be approached for his comments, an officer of the Board said that actual reasons for the two athletes missing the event will emerge after getting a response from the AFP.

He added that it seems the players were not ente­red in time that resulted in their non-participation.

“In such a scenario, this will be [considered] a major blunder,” the PSB official said and confirmed that the Board’s national federation wing sent a letter to AFP on the subject.

Head of AFP retired Maj Gen Akram Sahi, despite repeated attempts, could not be approached for his comment on the PSB letter and the reasons behind non-participation of the athletes in the Tehran event.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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