Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra had a misunderstanding that eventually led to Rijiju walking out of a high-level meeting, which took place to review the preparations going on by India for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics are slated to take place in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8. India came back with only two medals (a silver and a bronze) from the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Rijiju has promised a better show from the Indian athletes this time around.
A number of Indian athletes, including big shuttlers like Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, have had their chances of qualifying for the Olympics hit because of various tournaments getting cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic and the ban on Indian flights. In the last month, India missed out on the World Relays, the FIH Hockey Pro League matches between India and Britain were postponed while the Malaysian Open and Singapore Open were cancelled.
This particular issue was raised in the meeting on Tuesday and according to a report in The Tribune, a misunderstanding happened between Rijiju and Batra during the discussion over the same.
During the discussion, Rijiju said that the National Sports Federations should together put pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because the situation has put the Indian athletes in a precarious position.
According to the report, Rijiju said, “Federations and SAI have to be well coordinated so that IOA is given requisite information.”
Upon this statement, Batra objected and said, “I take offence sir. I am directly in touch with all federations.”
Rijiju clarified his position and said that his sentence was misconstrued. He said he only wants the best for the Indian athletes. Batra apologised to the Sports Minister for his reaction but Rijiju is reported to have left the meeting.
Apart from Rijiju and Batra, the others who attended the meeting were sports secretary Ravi Mittal and SAI director Sandip Pradhan, Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla, joint secretary sports LS Singh, a Ministry of External Affairs representative, and shooter Gagan Narang.