By PTI

NEW DELHI: Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin says the Indian Olympic Association does not attend regional meetings of the international sports body where she could have raised the issue of the non-inclusion of some sports in the CWG.

The AIO, however, said it was difficult to attend these meetings which do not have on the agenda issues relating to India’s grievances of excluding shooting, wrestling and Commonwealth Games roster archery.

Martin wrote a letter in response to AIO Secretary General Rajeev Mehta’s request to include shooting, wrestling and archery in the CWG 2026 to be held in Australia.

“CWG 2026 is also a topic that has been regularly discussed at CGA regional meetings over the past few months. increased engagement with you as CGI is an important leader in our movement,” Martin said in the letter to Mehta.

The IOA represents India at regional meetings of the Commonwealth Games in Asia.

Suggesting that these regional meetings provide the best opportunity for the IOA to discuss the non-inclusion of certain sports, Martin said: “The three sports you referred to are all Commonwealth Games core sports, with which We have a strong, long-standing relationship.”

She added that the CGF has already been in contact with the three international federations (ISSF, UWW and World Archery) to make it clear that it will update them on the next phase of the process as soon as it is finalized in partnership with new hosts.

Speaking on the letter written by Martin, Mehta said the IOA is keen to attend the meetings but there should be an assurance that the three sports in which India has traditionally been strong would be included in the list of the CWG 2026.

“We want to attend meetings, but are there efforts to review and resolve our long-standing grievances? Are our grievances on the agenda for meetings to be discussed? We want to ensure that sports like shooting, wrestling and archery are included in the CWG list,” Mehta said.

Citing the case of this year’s Birmingham CWG, Mehta said: “Shooting and archery is not on the 2022 CWG roster. After our protest, a shooting and archery championship was organized, which had to be canceled due to COVID-19. would not have happened if these two sports had been in the initial list”.

Mehta also expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of Indian representation in the committees and sub-committees of the CGF.

Stating that the IOA is for a cordial relationship, Mehta said: “We are in contact with the head and officials of the CGF as well as with the international federations of these three sports. We are for a cordial relationship and not for the confrontation”.

Martin said other sports were to be added to CWG 2026 later this year, but gave no assurances or hinted that shooting, wrestling and archery could be included in the Games.

“Our ambition is for this process to be concluded around December 2022, when we hope to be able to confirm and announce the additional sports on the programme,” she wrote.

On April 22, Mehta wrote a letter to Martin, describing the exclusion of shooting, wrestling and archery from the initial program of the 2026 Commonwealth Games as “shocking” and asked the CGF to discuss at its next General Assembly.

Mehta expressed dismay at the removal of the “three popular sports in the world” from the initial 16-sport slate for CWG 2026 in Australia.

Without shooting and wrestling, India’s CWG medal count will likely be reduced drastically. Shooting has been India’s strongest sport at the Commonwealth Games with 135 medals (63 gold, 44 silver and 28 bronze) so far.

Wrestling ranks third with 102 medals (43 gold, 37 silver and 22 bronze).

At the last CWG in Gold Coast (Australia) in 2018, shooting and wrestling had totaled 28 medals out of a total of 66 for the country.

On April 12, Victoria was announced as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with regional centers across the Australian state hosting the majority of events breaking with the traditional single host city model.

An initial slate of 16 sports, including T20 cricket, has been proposed for the Games, with more sports to be added later this year.

In 2019, the AIO threatened to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games which will be held from July 28 to August 8 this year after filming was excluded from the program.

The threat was removed after the CGF agreed to hold a separate Commonwealth Shooting Championship (as well as a Commonwealth Archery Championship) in India, with medals from the event to be counted in the final classification of the Birmingham Games.

The shooting (as well as archery) championships were due to be held in Chandigarh in January this year but were canceled due to the “uncertainty” posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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