The Sindh Olympics Association (SOA) announced that today’s opening ceremony of the Sindh Games will be held at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad as planned, dispelling concerns that arose after the stadium was found closed yesterday.
It has been confirmed that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had informed the SOA three days ago about the unavailability of the venue due to the regional division Twenty20 tournament being held at the stadium.
However, SOA Secretary Ahmed Ali Rajput remained adamant that he had sought permission from the cricket board a month ago and had made plans accordingly, confirming that the issue was settled.
“The matter has been resolved,” Rajput told The Express Tribune. “The PCB has agreed to let us host the opening and closing ceremonies at Niaz Stadium. We don’t have any sports event taking place at that venue otherwise.”
Athletes facing accommodation problems
Meanwhile, contrary to the SOA’s claims, athletes attending the 16th provincial games were complaining about the sub-standard accommodation and other facilities given to them.
Larkana’s Mehraab Ali, who won a boxing bronze in the last edition of the games held earlier this year, said that the boxers are being forced to sleep in government schools and colleges without proper beds and amenities.
“When I saw what was in store for us, I wanted to go back home,” said Ali. “Just like last time, we were taken to a government school with dusty rooms and mattresses. I expected it to be better than Mirpurkhas, but I am disappointed on my arrival.”
Kabaddi player Ahmed Kalhoro , who won silver for Sukkur, has only come to the games because of the daily allowance despite poor facilities and lack of respect for them. He said that the athletes get Rs 500 per day for three days.
“We are farmers and we only participate in the local fights,” said Kalhoro. “I can live with the issues because I get to take away a medal and I get paid to take part, which is really helpful for us.”
The event will feature over 2,000 athletes from Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur and Larkana in 34 events for males and 14 for females, according to SOA.
“We are dealing with more than 2,000 athletes and a thousand officials,” said Rajput. “This has created some problems, but we will make sure that we adjust each and everyone.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2012.