India set for Commonwealth boycott

The organisers of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have defended their decision to exclude shooting from the programme, for only the second time since 1970.

However, India’s Olympic association (IOA) have now threatened to boycott the games if the sport is not reinstated.  

The IOA have taken unprecedented steps towards a boycott, with President Narinder Batra writing to sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking a meeting to explain the proposed withdrawal.

The letter also outlined that the IOA were “compelled to reflect on our standing within the Commonwealth movement,” and that the country was pulling out of the CGF’s general assembly in September. 

But the dispute involving such a major Commonwealth nation could cause alarm within government, which hopes the £788m event will be an advert for global, post-Brexit Britain and help secure trade deals.

Indian shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games, where the country finished third in the medals table.

Former shooter Abhinav Bindra, the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics, has voiced his opposition on Twitter, commenting: “Boycotts don’t win you influence. They just make you irrelevant and punish other athletes.”

In a recent statement, Birmingham 2022 CEO, Ian Reid explained the proposed location for shooting, at Bisley in Surrey, “offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands” – however India and the Commonwealth Games Federation are now set to hold talks in a bid to resolve the crisis.

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