New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Finally it will be left to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to decide if India will field teams in football, basketball, handball, table tennis and sepak takraw in the 2014 Asian Games slated for Sep 19-Oct 4 in the South Korean city of Incheon.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has made its recommendations about all the 28 events that India would be participating in the Asian Games to the sports ministry. And it will be left for Sonowal to decide if India should also participate in football, basketball, handball, table tennis and sepak takraw, where no medals are expected.
SAI director general Jiji Thomson said Wednesday that he will be sending all the recommendations to sports ministry and by Monday it would be finalised whether India would be participating in these five disciplines.
"Besides the sports we have already decided to drop, we could also add table tennis, football and handball to that list. There is no chance of a medal in these disciplines. Our football team performed quite badly against Pakistan recently. We will be sending our recommendations based on the medal prospects. The sports minister will have to take the final call on Monday," said Thomson at a press meet here.
Thomson said it was important to drop some disciplines after the the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sent a list of 935 athletes and officials for the Asian Games. At the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, the Indian contingent had 625 athletes and SAI is planning to send around 700 athletes to Incheon.
Asked what was the logic behind spending on the exposure stints of these disciplines for the Asian Games and not sending them for the big event, Thomson said: "Sending them for the exposure trips is a continuous process. But we also have to evaluate them after every trip how the teams are progressing. We have spent some Rs.5 crore on 33 foreign coaches and will also review their performance after the Asian Games."
SAI is not impressed with the way the men's football team is performing. The men's team is ranked 26th while the women are ranked 11th in Asia.
The men's team, which won the gold medal twice in 1951 and 1962, are currently ranked 150th in the world. They have been clubbed with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in Group G and they have slim chances of qualifying to the round of 16.
Sudhir Setia, executive director (teams), SAI, said India should not cut a sorry figure in any discipline.
"It is better not to participate rather than cut a sorry figure. But we also have to take into account the past history and the sentiments attached with the sport and its popularity," he said.
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