Cloud over national games as Goa cites upcoming polls

Smita Nair
The Goa National Games were to be held in September 2016.

Citing a "peculiar situation", Goa will be facing, with Model Code of Conduct imposed for the assembly bye-elections for two constituencies between February and March, and later the Lok Sabha general elections between April and May, the state government has informed central ministries on the problems it will face in hosting the 36th National Games.

The official communication sent to the Indian Olympic Association and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is signed by J Ashok Kumar, Secretary, Sport and Youth Affairs. With two Congress MLA resigning and joining the BJP, the state has to fill the two seats with bye-elections for Shiroda and Mandrem expected to be in March 2019.

The letter elaborates that "processes towards organising the Games are underway, and in some cases, tenders have also been floated for the various services including hospitality and transport, the letter goes on to add that the National Games Organising Committee is also preparing for having the launch event at the end of January".

Kumar though further cautions the various model code of conduct that the state will face, adding, "Needless to say the entire state machinery will be involved in the conduct of elections. Since the proposed dates for National Games coincide with this Election Period, this will definitely have an impact on the conduct of the Game...Further, as you may be aware that while the MCC is in force, apart from the ban on organising any public functions, no new works can be taken up and procurements of goods and services are also prohibited," the letter read.

Another hindrance was the school examinations, which were cited as most of the volunteers, Kumar said, were students and they would not be available during the period.

The state government has now invited officials from New Delhi to take stock of the situation in Goa and also look for solutions. The government, meanwhile, has given itself a deadline of March 15, 2019, for all the infrastructure developments to be completed specifically regarding the Games.

Soon after Manohar Parrikar took over as chief minister, the Games were one of the promises he made in his speeches promising the "best services" as the host.

The state government has now put the decision to continue with the Games on the hands of the central Ministry, even as the letter ended with "while we place these concerns, we reiterate our commitment to host the 36th National Games in the best possible manner."