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Games postponement pangs for players
- Coaches and office-bearers of sports associations rule out shifting of event elsewhere
National Games complex in Hotwar, Ranchi

Ranchi, Sept. 26: With the 34th National Games all but postponed for the sixth time, the biggest casualty has been the motivation of players and of course, their training.

Coaches and office-bearers of state sports associations, however, stress that there is no risk of the Games being taken out of Jharkhand.

State chief secretary A.K. Singh said on Friday that it would be not be possible to hold the event — already postponed five times — in December as the vigilance probe into grave financial irregularities in purchase of sports equipment needed to be completed first.

“But there is a solution. The state can host the National Games even as the vigilance inquiry is on just like the Commonwealth Games will be held, the controversies notwithstanding,” said Sekhar Bose, national coach and secretary of Jharkhand Volleyball Association.

Indian Table Tennis Federation joint secretary Jai Kumar Sinha added: “This latest change in the Games schedule does not imply that Games will never be held here. The earlier edition of National Games had been postponed too but the event was not shifted to any other state. The 33rd National Games at Guwahati, slated in 2005, was finally held in February, 2007, as the infrastructure was not ready. Besides, the 35th edition of Games, to be host by Kerala in 2011, can always be deferred.”

Sinha further pointed out that with a huge amount of money already spent, it would not be wise to take Games elsewhere.

Moreover, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has to share part of the blame. Senior office-bearers of the association, as members of committees like Games Technical Conduct Committee and the steering committee, inspected the facilities at regular intervals and kept issuing okay certificate.

Former women hockey international Savitry Purty and secretary of Jharkhand Rifle Association S.M. Thakur agreed. “No one is worried about the players, the level of their preparedness and the impact of the postponements on them. As far as women hockey players are concerned, they have not had combined practice for over a year now,” Purty said.

National wrestling coach Bhola Nath Singh said: “Such frequent changes affect rhythm and motivation of players and in a way it’s a blessing in disguise that Games will not be held in December. Everything has been quiet on all fronts for one year and sports associations would have been hard pressed to prepare their players if the Games had to be held in December.”

Sinha has another point. “Many players who were shortlisted in the first three phases of coaching will not be available for Games now with many of them moving out of the state after bagging jobs. Now, they have to look for other players.”

On the fate of Games, National Games Organising Committee (NGOC) organising secretary S.M. Hashmi said: “This matter is between the chief minister, NGOC and IOA. If the state has problem hosting the event in December, then the chief minister should inform IOA.”

After all, the IOA will have the final say. Neither the state nor Jharkhand Olympic Association nor NGOC can take a unilateral decision.”

A senior functionary of IOA, requesting anonymity, said IOA was yet to receive any communication about NGOC working chairman R.K. Anand’s resignation or about the state’s inability to host the Games from December 9 this year.

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