With less than 24 hours for the 37th National Games to be formally declared open, Goa Olympic Association (GOA) has sent a strong letter to Goa Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) threatening withdrawal of the team.
In another development, most national sports federations displayed surprise over an eligibility letter signed by Amitabh Sharma, Chairman of Games Technical Conduct Committee (GTCC).
While the GOA letter to GABA requests the association to provide proof of eligibility of boxers, the letter signed by Sharma states “only athletes having Indian passports shall be eligible to participate”.
First the boxing controversy. Boxers in Goa have been upset after GABA declared the list of participants with a majority of those selected being from outside the State (Read GT Digital story Excess outsider quota shadows Goa National Games contingent – October 22, 2023).
Gurudutt Bhakta, Goa Olympic Association Secretary
“A participant has to be born in a State or should produce a six-month domicile certificate issued by the statutory body of the State,” stated GOA secretary Gurudutt Bhakta, whilst not wanting to discuss the letter sent to GABA.
The letter, accessed by GT Digital, requests GABA to furnish proof of the domicile of all boxers selected failing which they have been informed that IOA will be requested to withhold the participation of the team.
“I have just briefly glanced through the GOA letter,” stated Swetika Sharma, CEO of the 37th National Games.
Sharma’s letter on an Indian passport as eligibility has federations displaying surprise. “We have not received any eligibility rules from IOA. In the past any player with OCI was allowed to participate,” stated a member of an Olympic Association from a State on condition of anonymity.
Swetika Sharma, CEO - 37th National Games
“The eligibility criteria should have been uploaded on the IOA or at least the National Games website. But I do not see what should be the problem if it is not uploaded as all NSF’s have been sent a copy,” Sharma stated when pressed for an answer as to why the eligibility criteria has not been uploaded.
The wheel of doubt, however, spins around the GTCC chairman’s letter to the Squash Racket Federation of India (SRFI). “If the eligibility rules were sent to all NSFs why did SRFI write to the Chairman GTCC?” asked a bewildered member of the IOA.
“We have not received any eligibility criteria document. The criteria that an athlete has to be born in India and that he needs six months domicile is being followed and if there are changes, they need to be made during the IOA AGM and none have been made so far,” stated a member of IOA on condition of anonymity.
In a related development, Gayle Miranda, granddaughter of Manuel Miranda, is representing Goa in rowing and despite enjoying permanent resident status in the United Sates of America (USA), will be representing the State through GOA as there is no rowing association in Goa.
“Gayle has an Indian passport,” declared Bhakta. “It is a good question,” he replied when asked why Miranda, an internationally acclaimed rower, did not represent India at the recently concluded Asian Games.
The 37th National Games in Goa – held after much delay – seem set to start with controversy of who should play and who should not.