KARACHI: An all-time low number of participants are expected to represent Pakistan at the Olympics this time, with only five national athletes projected to travel to Rio de Janeiro on the basis of ‘universality places’.
So far, Pakistan has failed to qualify for any event in the Games with the major miss being field hockey. Meanwhile, the most recent failures to qualify for the Games came in boxing, wrestling and weightlifting.
Pakistan’s lowest number of representatives at the Olympics was 21 in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and that figure mainly consisted of hockey players. Two participants in athletics, two swimmers and one shooter made up the remaining contingent.
Given the past record, Pakistan may be sending just five athletes this year, now that the national hockey team has failed to make it to the Olympics for the first time in history.
The probable athletes are depending on the universality places policy, wherein the International Olympic Committee grants wild card entries to the countries that fail to qualify in any event.
“It’s a disaster, primarily because there has never been concrete planning for Olympics by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Pakistan Olympic Association,” Pakistan Weightlifting Federation Vice-President Rashed Malik told The Express Tribune. “Every country in the world starts preparations for Olympics at least eight years before their targeted event. In Pakistan, nothing gets done because of a lack of interest and planning.”
Meanwhile, wrestler Muhammad Inam believes it makes the athletes look bad, although they try their best on their own but are beaten due to a lack of support and exposure to the right training and tournaments.
“We don’t do anything like the countries that want to win medals at the Olympics,” said Inam. “Even India sends its wrestlers for Olympic preparations to Georgia, what did our federation or government do?”
While boxing still has a slim chance to make it to the Games as the boxers feature in the last Olympics qualifiers next month, the officials feel it will be too little, too late.
On the other hand, the country’s governing body for sports holds the dearth of communication from the federations’ side responsible for the mess.
“The federations never gave us the plan for the Olympics, nor did they convey any indication of serious preparations,” claimed PSB Director General Akhtar Ganjera. “They can’t blame us for their lack of planning.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2016.