Para Shooting World Cup 2024 In Jeopardy After Suspension Of Paralympic Committee By Sports Ministry

More than 500 pistol, rifle and shotgun shooters from 52 countries are expected to compete in the competition and aim to secure Paralympic quota places in the last tournament of the qualification cycle

X/ @AvaniLekhara
Indian para shooter Avani Lekhara (second from left) with other para shooters. Photo: X/ @AvaniLekhara

The hosting of the Para Shooting World Cup in India next month is in jeopardy following the sports ministry's decision to suspend the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) for not holding elections on time. (More Sports News)

The Para Shooting World Cup, to be held at the Karni Singh Ranges in New Delhi from March 6-15, is the first-ever mega para shooting competition allotted to India and offers 24 Paris Paralympic quota places.

More than 500 pistol, rifle and shotgun shooters from 52 countries are expected to compete in the competition and aim to secure Paralympic quota places in the last tournament of the qualification cycle.

Several top Indian para shooters are also in the fray for Paralympic quota places.

However, following the ministry's decision on February 2, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the prestigious event at a time when the PCI is in the final phase of confirming entries of competitors by name, arranging their visas, staying and putting in place a technical team for the conduct of the competition.

The ministry had on February 2 issued an order suspending the PCI's recognition for "intentional delay" by the national body "to elect a new executive committee" as per the National Sports Code.

The four-year term of the PCI ended on January 31 this year and, as per the ministry, the elections should have been held before the expiry of the term. The PCI has scheduled the election for March 28 this year.

PCI secretary-general Gursharan Singh told PTI on Sunday that the ministry had been informed that the elections were getting delayed only because of the impending Para World Cup.

"Yes, they have suspended the recognition of the PCI. How can they when no national sports federation (NSF) has received recognition for the current year?

"The ministry is saying that they suspended our recognition because we did not hold the elections on time. Our election was due on January 27 this year but because of the Para World Cup, which has been awarded to India for the first time, we had to postpone the elections.

"We announced the dates of the elections in March after the Para World Cup. The elections are on March 28 and the returning officer has also been appointed," said Singh.

"We informed the ministry about the election dates a week back, and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) too has been informed. Suddenly this development (suspension of recognition) happened; I don't know why.

"We wrote to the ministry that the elections were being postponed only because of the Para World Cup... a ministry official is also in the Para World Cup organising committee," added Singh.

"We received the last date for entries by name for the competition only yesterday. This development will spoil the reputation of the country. We will have to organise the tournament come what may, otherwise the IPC will create problems for us," he said.

"Our body hasn't been suspended, our recognition has. We don't take any money from the government but the biggest hurdle is the sponsors, many of them Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), who might not release payments following the developments."

Singh said the PCI has a budget of Rs 12 crore for the Para World Cup from which they were hoping for Rs 5 crore in sponsorship money.

"With the Paralympic Games later this year in Paris, this is not a welcome move. It's going to de-motivate the players."

The ministry has directed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to coordinate with the IPC to form an ad-hoc committee comprising eminent administrators and sportspersons "to undertake these tasks performed by PCI" and "conduct free, fair and transparent elections".

"At least a notice should have been served before suspending our recognition," he added.

On whether there was a likelihood of the Para World Cup being taken away from India and being awarded to some other country, Singh replied in the negative.

"It is not possible at such short notice", said Singh, though a source told PTI that South Korea is more than keen to host the event.

"The best part is the government has given the No-objection Certificate (NOC) for organising the Para World Cup. After all this, why has this spanner in the works?

"There is a provision in our bylaws and the National Sports Code that under special circumstances they can approve (postpone elections)."

Sports Authority of India director-general Sandip Pradhan did not answer calls or messages.