Gopichand to re-examine State venue

SAF badminton row: Mukul echoes withdrawal threat

Pullela Gopichand

SHILLONG: Sending a strong message Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday said Meghalaya will withdraw from co-hosting next month’s South Asian Games if the badminton event is shifted from Shillong to Guwahati, even as Games Technical Conduct Committee (GTCC) has decided to send former Indian Badminton player Pullela Gopichand re-examine the venue at the Sports Authority of  India Special Area Games at NEHU which is slated to host badminton.
According to Sports and Youth Affairs department Secretary FR Kharkongor, Gopichand is likely visit the State for inspecting the venue sometime next week.
He also informed that the Chief Secretary  PBO Warjri had carried out a spot inspection on Thursday and instructed the Regional Director of the Sports Authority of India to make the necessary arrangement for synthetic turf at the warm-up area.
The badminton event of the upcoming South Asian Games has been shifted by the organisers to Guwahati from Shillong due to “inadequate facilities” at the proposed venue in the Meghalaya capital.
The Sports and Youth Affairs Secretary  informed that the State Government has urged the Centre to review its decision of shifting of badminton failing which it would explore on the possibilities of withdrawing from co-hosting the SAF Games.
Kharkongor said that the State Government had sent a letter to the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in this connection.
He further informed that the main content of the letter is that the decision of shifting the badminton should be re- examined so that status quo could be maintained.
He further said that the GTCC had decided to withdraw the discipline because warm up area was made of concrete and they had also raised concern over the injury issue of the players in view of the warm up area being made of concrete.
Earlier, speaking to media persons here on Thursday, the Chief Minister said that the State Government had already communicated its stand to the Union Government on the matter.
“We had informed the union government that the decision or Meghalaya and Assam to be the co-hosts was agreed after due consultation,” Sangma said.
“Now, the decision to shift badminton from Shillong to Guwahati indicates that it is an afterthought manoeuvre to suit “unpleasant politicking” while hosting of such an important international event,” he said.
The matter was also discussed in the cabinet meeting held here on Thursday.