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Indian government cuts jumbo Asiad squad

November 23, 2006

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NEW DELHI, Nov 22: India's government has slashed its Asian Games squad and refused to clear participation in eight sports at the event, Olympic officials said on Wednesday.

The sports ministry wielded the axe on a 589-member list forwarded by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), approving 387 representatives in 24 sports, including 267 athletes and 120 officials for the Games in Doha, Qatar from Dec. 1.

Soccer, basketball, handball, sepak takraw, triathlon, ten-pin bowling and rugby 7s -- sports in which India have no medal hopes -- were omitted from the approved list.

The government pays the airfare for athletes it clears.

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said exposure was important before India stages the 2010 Commonwealth Games and requested the government reconsider its decision otherwise it would have to pay to send the teams to take part in those sports.

“Even if the government does not agree, we will send the team at our expense but we want them to do it,” Kalmadi said, adding that teams would be fined for any late withdrawals.

India won only 11 gold medals to finish seventh in the 2002 Asian Games, seven coming from track and field.—Reuters