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India should exit Commonwealth Games, national Olympics chief says

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: Sanjeev Rajput of India competes in the Men's 50m Rifle 3P final during Shooting on day 10 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Belmont Shooting Centre on April 14, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra has said the country should stop entering the Commonwealth Games because the level of competition is not high enough.

“India as a country, in sports, should withdraw out of Commonwealth totally,” Batra told Agence France-Presse. “I feel there is not sufficient level of competition, leaving aside two or three sports. It doesn’t leave anyone anywhere with this low level of competition.

“India should be participating in world events and world championships, which earn Olympic ranking points.”

The comments come amid a row between Indian sports officials and the Commonwealth Games over shooting being removed from the programme for the 2022 event. India has a strong shooting team and topped the shooting medal table at the last Commonwealth Games, in Australia in 2018. The country’s sports officials have previously threatened to boycott the 2022 Games, in Birmingham, UK, over the exclusion of the sport.

Batra said he was open to talks with CWG officials about reintroducing shooting, but said his comments about India’s overall exit stood regardless. One of the reasons he is keen for India to focus on Olympic-ranking competitions, he said, is that the country is aiming to host the 2032 Summer Olympics and the 2026 Youth Olympics.

AFP reported he said: “We are serious about the 2032 Olympics and 2026 Youth Olympics but then you have to follow a process. And to get these events into India you need to win in the Olympics.”

Batra’s comments received a mixed reaction from India’s sports fraternity. Reports by Indian sports business news website Insidesport.co suggested that a majority of athletes and officials disagreed with them.

Boxer Vijender Singh, an Olympic medallist, was reported to have said: “It is heart-breaking. By this logic, India should not send teams to invitational tournaments either because the level of competition is not like the Olympics or the world championship even there. Why belittle athletes’ achievements? And in any case, CWG has strong boxing nations such as England and Ireland in fray.”

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia said the standard of competition at the CWG was in some sports higher than the Asian Games: “For athletics, CWG is world-class, the competition is of higher level than the Asian Games.”

However, Insidesport.co reported that some agreed with Batra. Former Archery Association secretary general Paresh Nath Mukherjee said: “He has hit the nail on the head. Commonwealth Games has no relevance in the Olympics. It has no value and only poor and foolish countries like us make such hype about CWG. It’s nothing but waste of money.”