KARACHI: The latest rift between the parallel bodies of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has taken hockey – the only potential medal-winning sport for the country in Olympics – in its fold.
It has been learnt by The Express Tribune that the second deadline for the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to submit its ‘expression for interest’ for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2014 expired yesterday with the federation failing to act again.
Initially, the deadline to show consent was July 23 but the PHF opted against sending a reply to the Arif Hasan-led POA. As a result, the body sent confirmation of only shooting, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming, rugby and boxing for participation.
The PHF had turned to the Akram Sahi-led POA that is supported by the government-run Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) who reportedly refused to permit the hockey body to respond to Hasan’s organisation. A top PSB official said they will take up the matter of participation in the CWG to higher authorities including the foreign ministry.
“It is a must for us to take permission from the government,” PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa told The Express Tribune. “We will be carrying our national flag and we cannot go there without a No-Objection Certificate from the PSB.
“We are desperate to take part in the CWG and are hopeful that the government will find solutions for it.
“It is a very important event for us because it will be followed by the Asian Games that will serve as an Olympics qualifier.”
Meanwhile, Hasan who runs the International Olympic Committee-backed POA said hockey’s participation will become difficult after the expiration of the extended deadline.
“We are hoping that the PHF will send their expression of interest today,” Hasan had said earlier yesterday.
“Hockey is our national game and we want to see our team in action at the CWG. But it will be very difficult for us to convince the game’s organisers if this deadline is crossed.”
Meanwhile, a former Olympian has urged the authorities to resolve the matter on a priority basis.
“This issue of POA bodies must be fixed at the earliest because it has now started hurting hockey,” he said. “This game is our national sport and the only reliable discipline in Olympics for us. If the situation aggravates then it will be a huge loss for the country’s sports.”
The PHF had not shown their desire to respond to the Hasan-led POA till the filing of this report.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.
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