Most of us would have already forgotten the athletes who represented Pakistan at the Rio Olympics, scheduled to end on August 21. All of them had already made their final appearance at the Games with quite a few days left for the Olympics to draw to a close. The country was represented by seven athletes, who competed in the qualification phases of their respective events and none of them went beyond this stage and neither did they look close to competing with their highly skilled, trained and battle-hardened opponents. For a few days now, we might see the media and some impassioned followers ruing the shambolic state of sports in the country and the general apathy of the government towards this area but this anguish will remain shortlived. Rio 2016 has been no different from London 2012, Beijing 2008 or any of the preceding Olympics going back to Atlanta 1996, with Pakistan returning empty-handed from each of the last six Games. Each time, there has been a hue and cry over the dismal state of affairs but the fact is that Pakistan continue to nosedive further as time passes and one isn’t even sure if they have hit their lowest point yet.
The Pakistan Sports Board and the Pakistan Olympic Committee (POC) were embroiled in conflict for much of the last four years, which meant that rather than focusing on the provision of requisite facilities and infrastructure for the athletes in the build-up to Rio, energy was spent on scheming for power and clout locally and internationally. Unabashed, the heads of the two bodies travelled to Rio with the POC chief stating that there were zero hopes of medals from the contingent. The two bodies blame the government for non-provision of finances, but have no qualms about spending funds on sending officials to attend international sporting events and conferences. Somehow, they always find the means to travel overseas and rarely if ever have the means to develop concrete training plans for athletes. Tokyo 2020 will be no different if the current crisis in Pakistani sport continues.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2016.