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Indian government backs Commonwealth shooting and archery events

Shreyasi Singh of India competes during the Women's Double Trap Finals at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Indian government has approved a proposal from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to host Commonwealth championships for shooting and archery after the two sports were controversially omitted from the programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The IOA last week said it would withdraw its threat to boycott the English city’s staging of the multi-sport event, a proposal that had been put forward amid the decision by local organisers on the make-up of the sporting programme for Birmingham 2022.

In August, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) signed off on the sports programme for the next Commonwealth Games, claiming that the addition of women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis, plus the controversial omission of shooting, would make Birmingham 2022 the first major multi-sport competition to feature more women’s than men’s medal events.

The three sports were initially selected by Birmingham 2022 in June, following an Additional Sports Review process that also included archery and shooting. The latter two sports failed to make the cut. The initial decision to omit shooting had caused uproar, particularly in India, for which the sport accounted for 16 of its 66 medals at Gold Coast 2018.

Speaking ahead of August’s announcement, CGF president Louise Martin claimed that Birmingham 2022 had proposed that two shooting events be staged, only for this to be rejected by the International Shooting Sport Federation, which wanted a full programme.

Bisley in Surrey was deemed the nearest appropriate facility for shooting at Birmingham 2022, and the CGF said it also suggested a “Commonwealth Championships” be held there shortly before the Commonwealth Games.

The IOA, which has also included a pledge to bid for the 2026 or 2030 Games, has approved a proposal by the National Rifle Association of India to host and pay for a separate Commonwealth shooting championship before Birmingham 2022.

The IOA has proposed to the CGF that an archery championship, likely to be solely funded by the Indian government, would result in two events run “adjunctly to and some months prior to the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham during 2022”.

The Ministry said in a letter reported by Indian news agency PTI: “I am directed to refer to Indian Olympic Association’s letter dated 1st January, 2020, regarding holding of Commonwealth shooting and archery events in India in March 2022 and to convey the ‘in-principle approval’ of the government.”