By Nitin Srivastava
New Delhi [India], June 9 (ANI): Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta on Wednesday gave his opinion on dropping off the Chinese sponsor from the Olympic kit for the Tokyo-bound athletes.
The IOA on Tuesday had decided that the nation's athletes would wear unbranded sports apparel in the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The IOA and Sunlight Sports have reached an agreement together to arrange the sports kitting of the Indian Olympic team to Tokyo 2020, locally by IOA.
The agreement was reached keeping in mind the safety and convenience of the athletes, in lieu of the logistical challenges being faced by IOA due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown situation in the country.
"Our agreement with Sunlight (sub-dealer Li Ning) started with the 2016 Rio Olympics and it was to go up to the Tokyo Olympics. All mega-events were under Sunlight, I think we are very comfortable with Sunlight company. When we were abiding by the contract, at that time there was no company to sponsor us, we tried enough companies. In 2014 when I was elected as a Secretary-General of IOA, I tried to bring sponsorship in IOA. Everything was fine," Mehta told ANI.
"We are facing some problems because of the office of this company, which is based out of Singapore. Lately, we were getting no product from Singapore, it was kind of a block for us and the other situation you are aware of which is the country matter. I had started talks with the concerned person two days ago," he added.
Talking about the decision to wear unbranded apparel, Mehta said: "See as far as the unbranded issue is concerned, to whomever the team of National Organising Committee (NOC) goes, they have a brand and on this topic also, we will talk to them. It is a loss for us. There is no help from others to IOA, only IOC and OCA help us. We use sponsors to run our state federation and office. We are looking for a new one."
"See as of now I have not spoken to the Sports Ministry about the loss. I am trying to find a company who can pay for the kitting and other expenses. Our deal was with Sunlight, Sunlight owner is Indian, their office is in Singapore, and the sub-dealer of sunlight was maybe Li Ning in my point of view. I think most of the business is happening in the same way, nothing is coming from China directly, the other companies are bringing it through Singapore or Hong Kong," he added.
Talking about any help from the government ahead of the Olympics, Mehta said: "IOA is an autonomous body we do not take any financial aid to run our office but yes the offices we had in JLN stadium, on that there was commitment before CWG that the offices will be given back after the games, it is now 2021, the commitment of ministry could not be fulfilled. I think almost most of our federation is on loan, people are running the federation on their own. I don't think that the government is helping to run the federations, I will request the Sports Minister regarding this."
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) had written to the IOA for allowing four coaches including Pullela Gopichand to travel alongside the Olympic-bound shuttlers to the Tokyo Games.
"We are regularly discussing this matter, we have given 33 percent criteria, in a long list many people have applied, later the organising committee asked us to cut short the list as it was big in numbers and it would not be possible to give accreditation to all. We can think over it that if anybody is really required and they are so sure of getting a gold medal, then they will have to listen, and there we can add on one or two officials. The coach who has been with the athletes since starting his presence at games is required but we are looking at each and everything particularly," said Mehta on this matter.
"Family members are not allowed at all, looking at the situation of Japan I do not think that the organising committee will allow any extra member, its quota system under that system will have to be seen," he added. (ANI)