In a shocking case of official apathy, differently-abled sportspersons participating in the 15th National Para-Athletics Championships have been put up at unfurnished and unhygienic accommodations, prompting the Sports Ministry to seek a report from the organisers.
The athletes’ condition drew Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s attention after a media outcry.
“…Differently-abled athletes and their well-being is a priority for us. We are examining the matter and are looking into the reasons for mismanagement of the event,” Sonowal tweeted.
“A detailed report has been asked on the organisation of the National Para-Athletic Games from the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). I have asked my sports secretary to take immediate action and submit a report within 24 hours. Based on that I will take action. From our part, there is no discrimination between abled-bodied and differently abled athletes,” Sonowal said.
The athletes were shocked when they were given messy and unkempt rooms at a building in Ghaziabad.
“We have not been given proper food. We have been eating poori and one vegetable dish for the last four days. We walk with sticks and yet we have been given rooms on the second floor. There are no ramps for wheelchair-bound athletes. The toilets are dirty, there are no fans or water,” Yogesh, a participating athlete, said.
“I fell three times while taking bath today. We are drinking water from a tanker and it as not been cleaned. The toilets are also filthy,” Vinay, another participant, said.
Video footage showed the athletes crawling up staircases, sleeping on the floor in cramped rooms and unhygienic food being served to them.
PCI president Rajesh Tomar said a panel has been formed to file a report on the matter.
“The PCI governs 70 federations and it the Paralymic Federation of India’s job to conduct the National Championships. They are in touch with the local organisers and our job is to oversee it. We have constituted a four-member committee, which includes an athlete, and they will file a report. Stern action will be taken, if needed,” Tomar said.
The Uttar Pradesh government washed its hands of the issue, saying the onus was entirely on the PCI for proper conduct of the event.
The championships comprises of two events — the National Para Powerlifting Championships (March 14 and 15) and National Athletics Championships (March 20-22).
They are being held at the Weightlifting Auditorium in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Complex and Janhit Para Sports Grounds (Madhuban, Bapudham) in Ghaziabad respectively.