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SAI delays funds release, archers left in the lurch in USA

As the bills kept mounting, the hotel staff started asking how the team intended to make the rest of the payment.

In a huge embarrassment, the men’s archery team members were forced to stay back in Salk Lake City, Utah, by a day after they failed to clear their hotel dues. This was because the Sports Authority of India (SAI) failed to release funds in time for the archers. The reason – the SAI official, who was to travel with the team and take care of the expenses, failed to do so, putting the archers in the lurch.

The men’s and women’s compound teams flew from Wroclaw, Poland, where they took part in the Archery World Cup Stage IV, to Salt Lake City for a 10-day training session under coach D Wilde at the Easton Archery Centre. The session started on August 11.

Ever since Archery Association of India (AAI) was de-recognised for violating the sports code, SAI has been sending one of its officer with the team to disburse travel and daily allowances to the archers.

For the Utah trip, executive director (teams) Sudhir Setia was the one who was designated to accompany the archers. But he chose not to travel with the archers since he felt it was not right for him to accompany the team after having travelled to Glasgow only last month as part of the SAI delegation.

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And while he skipped the tour, none was asked to accompany the team in his place. As a result only $2,000 was paid as advance for the first three days to Doubletree, the hotel where the archers were put up, as against hotel expenses, including breakfast. Since then, no money changed hands, adding to the archers’ woes.

In the meantime, Setia and his team got busy with compiling and dealing with applications for the Arjuna Awards. Moreover, a clutch of holidays added to the problem and no transfer of funds were made last week.

AAI checks in

As the bills kept mounting, the hotel staff started asking how the team intends to make the rest of the payment. With SAI not making the payment, the archers got in touch with the AAI which transferred funds to coach Jivajot Singh’s account to take care of the archers’ food bill.

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The archery teams were supposed to fly back to India on Friday but since the hotel dues were not cleared, the men’s team had to cancel the tickets. On Friday, the funds were finally released, but the damage had already been done.

“We have released the money, but because of the delay they have to stay back for a day. I have sanctioned that,” SAI director general Jiji Thomson told The Indian Express.

The girls team left for New Delhi on Friday, while the men will now take the flight on Saturday.

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The mess has forced some in the AAI to question the need to send a SAI representative whenever the team travels abroad. “It can transfer the money directly to the archers’ accounts or it can hand them a day before they travel. Where is the need for somebody to travel just for that?” asked a source.

The delay in returning home could hurt compound archer Rajat Chauhan’s chances of participating in the Archery World Cup finals in Switzerland. The year-ending tournament will be held on September 6 and 7 and Chauhan will get very little time to apply for visa.

First published on: 23-08-2014 at 02:26:51 am
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