Shared News | Updated: August 1, 2018 9:51:07 am
Organising committee of Asian Games denied Yachting Association of India permission to conduct a last-minute selection trial after other contingents raised objections.
For a little more than a fortnight, two Bhopal girls have been navigating the treacherous waters of Jakarta Bay, fine-tuning their preparation for the Asian Games under Italian Olympian Francesca Clapcich. Now with 17 days to go for the continental mega event, Ekta Yadav and Shaila Charls aren’t even sure if they will be allowed to compete.
The predicament of the two sailors has worsened after the organising committee of the Asian Games denied the Yachting Association of India (YAI) permission to conduct a last-minute selection trial after other contingents raised objections, saying a race at the venue just 10 days before the Games would give the Indian team an unfair advantage. It is learnt that an incomplete venue and security concerns also led to the organisers rejecting YAI’s request.
The decision has put the participation of Indian sailors in the women’s 49er FX category in jeopardy. The issue has once again reached the Delhi High Court, where it all began last month, after the YAI lodged an appeal on Tuesday.
“We have requested the court through our appeal that Ekta and Shaila be given permission to compete at the Asian Games. We had made all the necessary arrangements for a re-trial in Jakarta and even appointed international race officials. But the organisers have not given us permission and there isn’t enough time to conduct a re-trial now,” a federation official said.
On July 19, the Delhi High Court ordered YAI to conduct a fresh trial after 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Varsha Gautham, who had been excluded from the squad, alleged inconsistency in the selection process. Since the boats were already in Jakarta, YAI decided to conduct the proposed trial there from August 5 to 8. Three teams were supposed to be a part of the winners-take-all regatta – Ekta and Shaila, Varsha and Sweta Shervegar, and Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan and Jayalakhsmi Sundaravadive.
But the organising committee has put a spanner in YAI’s works. They refused permission to conduct the trial via an email sent to YAI office-bearers last Thursday. In a last-ditch attempt to convince the organisers, senior YAI official Ajay Narang flew to Jakarta on Friday. “The organisers explained that the venue had suffered some damage due to high tides and it is now being repaired so that it is ready for the Games,” a federation official said. “Also, from August 1, all the competition venues will be locked down for security reasons and only those who have prior clearance from the organising committee will be allowed inside.”
But what really went against YAI was the objection raised by other countries. After YAI made the request on July 22, the organising committee got in touch with other participating countries. “They were not comfortable with the idea as they believed our teams will get an unfair advantage over them if they compete at the venue so close to the Games,” the official added.
Narang, it is learnt, also scouted for alternate locations but was not given permission due to security reasons. Ekta and Shaila will continue to train in Jakarta under Clapcich, a 2014 World Championship bronze medalist. But whether they will be allowed to compete will now be decided by the court.