New Delhi/Mumbai: Union sports minister MS Gill on Wednesday said it’s upto BCCI to decide whether to send teams to Asian Games or not but is personally not in favour of cricket’s inclusion in such multi-sport events.
Reacting to BCCI’s decision not to send either the men’s or women’s teams to Guangzhou, China where cricket makes its Asian Games debut in November, Gill said it was for the cricket board to decide.
“My take is simple. What programme BCCI is going to play is their business to decide and they are deciding it,” Gill told reporters.
Ratnakar Shetty, a top official with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, cited prior international commitments for India skipping the men’s and women’s Twenty20 cricket tournaments at the Games in Guangzhou, China, from 12-27 November.
Shetty said on Tuesday that the BCCI already had informed organizers in China.
Gill said, “As an individual, and not as the sports minister of India, I am not sure that things like cricket should be in the Asian Games.”
“There are so many tournaments that the boys are simply too tired. Even race horses should be rested,” the minister said.
BCCI’s decision not to send teams to the Asian Games did not go down well with the Olympic Council of Asia which called it a setback to cricket’s inclusion in truly international sports events.
Gill, meanwhile, saw no logic in stretching the list of Olympic sports to include cricket.
“You see, in events like Olympics and Asian Games, the structure includes athletics, gymnastics, wrestling and various disciplines. Now you can go on stretching them the reasons for which doesn’t seem to me justified or understandable,” he said.
Asia’s other test-ranked nations -- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- are likely to send cricket teams to the Games. A dozen other teams entered qualifying for three other spots in the tournament.
India will be hosting New Zealand for three tests and five one-day internationals in November.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced after its General Assembly meeting last year that cricket would be among five sports making a debut on the program for the 16th edition of the Games.
At the time, OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah described India and Pakistan as “the drivers” for getting cricket included on the program for the first time and vowed that their best teams would enter.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Randhir Singh, who is also secretary general of the Olympic Council of Asia, said he’d write to the Board of Control for Cricket in India expressing his disappointment and asking it to reconsider before the 16 June deadline for entries.
“I’m very, very disappointed. It really hurts because we were really keen to have cricket in this multi-discipline event,” Randhir was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India. He said it was now up to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to resolve matter.
“The ACC worked really hard to get cricket included in the Asian Games. So it is ACC’s responsibility to take up the issue with the BCCI. It will be a big embarrassment for OCA if India, where cricket is (like) a religion, does not participate in the Asian Games,” Randhir said.
“This is particularly sad because cricket is a major sport in our country and we expected medals from the Asian Games.”
Randhir rejected the BCCI’s stance that it already had a full calendar, saying the national cricket board was aware of the Asian Games dates.
“The Games dates were out four years ago, so it was not at wise on their part to back out at the last moment,” he said.