There is a fear that the Incheon Asian Games would be a gold medal drought for India. As it is country’s gold medal hopes rest on a very limited number of sports and three of these which fetch a sure-shot gold may not be included in the 2014 Games to be held in South Korea.
The sports in danger of losing out are cue sports, in which India won two gold medals at Doha in 2006 and one here, and chess, two gold medals at the previous Games.
There is a sword hanging over India’s pet event, kabaddi as well. Since kabaddi was introduced in Asian Games in 1990, India has won the gold each time. These sports came under threat because the Olympic Council of Asia has decided to reduce the number of sports from 42 sports to 35 in the next Asiad, which means there is space for only seven non-Olympic sports.
Highly placed sources in the OCA told DNA that the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee backed kabaddi but the insistence of OCA president Sheikh Ahmed Al Fayad Al Sabah to have cricket and karate, has forced them to drop two sports from their preferred list of seven sports — softball, baseball, wushu, squash, kabaddi, sepaktakraw and ten pin bowling. The fate of these sports will be decided in the OCA meeting next month. Compared to 28 sports at the Olympics, the Asian Games here has 42 sports.
Incheon was dead against including cricket. But thanks to the support of OCA president, the board endorsed the decision to have cricket and karate in their meeting on Monday. The Incheon organising committee’s argument was that cricket is restricted to a few countries and they did not have infrastructure to host this sport.
India’s lone gold medallist in the Games here, Pankaj Advani told DNA he was hopeful that cue sports will continue to be a part of the Games. “If it happens it would be disastrous as we are not in the Olympics and this is our Olympics,” said Advani.
Advani was dejected that his sports was not a part of the Olympics. “England is the home of billiards and snooker and when the sport is not part of the Olympics being held in London, so what can we say.”