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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Paris Olympic Games: Mary Kom surprises IOA with pullout letter 

Mary Kom’s pullout is a huge blow to Usha’s IOA which is in the middle of a bitter internal squabbling

Angshuman Roy Calcutta Published 13.04.24, 09:54 AM
(Left) In this picture shared on X, MC Mary Kom, the London Games bronze medallist, poses with former boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather last month.(Picture right, PTI) IOA president PT Usha.

(Left) In this picture shared on X, MC Mary Kom, the London Games bronze medallist, poses with former boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather last month.(Picture right, PTI) IOA president PT Usha. X and PTI

MC Mary Kom sprung a surprise by pulling out as India’s chef de mission for the Paris Olympic Games. In a letter to the Indian Olympic Association president PT Usha on Friday, the London Olympic Games bronze medallist said she is “left with no choice” due to some personal reasons.

“I consider it an honour to serve my country in every way possible, and I was
mentally prepared for it. However, I regret that I will not be able to uphold the
prestigious responsibility and would like to resign, owing to personal reasons.

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“It is embarrassing to retreat from a commitment, which I seldom do, but I am left
with no choice,” she wrote.

The IOA had announced her appointment on March 21. “This is a huge honour and responsibility and i (sic) want to thank our legendary IOA president Ms PT Usha and also my colleagues at the IOA for entrusting me with this responsibility.

“Together we look forward to support our athletes in every way possible for the best ever performance at Paris,” Mary Kom had posted on X on that day.

The celebrated boxer was to be the logistical in-charge of the country’s contingent at the July 26-August 11 Games. The chef de mission of every national team competing at the Games has the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of his or her team, the most important arm being the athletes. The six-time Winter Olympian and luger Shiva Keshavan was appointed the deputy chef de mission.

“We are sad that Olympic medal-winning boxer and Chairperson of the IOA Athletes Commission, Mary Kom, has stepped down citing personal reasons. We respect her decision and her privacy,” Usha said in a statement.

Usha said she spoke to Mary Kom after receiving her letter. “I completely understand her request and respect her decision. I have also conveyed to her that she will always have my own support and that of IOA. I also request everyone to respect the legendary boxer’s privacy,” she said.

Mary Kom’s pullout is a huge blow to Usha’s IOA which is in the middle of a bitter internal squabbling. The appointment of Raghuram Iyer as the chief executive officer saw a tussle between Usha and the executive committee.

The announcement of table tennis star Sharath Kamal as the male flag bearer for the opening ceremony upset a few national sports federations. The International Olympic Committee. in 2020, had changed its protocol to allow one female and one male athlete of each NOC (National Olympic Committee) to carry the flag jointly during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The IOA is yet to name the female flag bearer.

“Mary Kom’s pullout is a major setback for the IOA,” a source told The Telegraph.

“I shall make the appropriate consultations and soon make an announcement about the replacement for Mary Kom,” Usha said.

In 2012, Brig PK Muralidharan Raja was named the acting chef de mission because of the indisposition of incumbent Ajitpal Singh.

Singh could not travel to London because of severe spondylitis.

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