KARACHI: The Pakistan weightlifters contingent has ended its protest and agreed to take part in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) after the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) promised to look into the ugly flag-carrying spat that took place during the opening ceremony.
The weightlifters threatened to pull out of the event after Pakistan’s chef-de-mission Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, also the Sindh sports minister, decided to carry the national flag instead of the designated carrier, 2006 CWG gold-medallist weightlifter Shujauddin Malik.
Pakistan weightlifting coach and manager Rashid Mehmood said that the POA Chairman Arif Hasan has assured a full inquiry into the incident and has also promised to take possible action against Shah if found guilty of misconduct.
“We’ll be competing in the event after an assurance by the POA,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune. “We took this decision as we’re here to promote Pakistan. The weightlifters are trying to forget the incident and are fully focussed on giving their best in the competition.”
Shah denies snatching flag
The under-fire chef-de-mission has denied snatching the flag, adding that Malik was not the designated flag-bearer.
“Nothing was decided before the ceremony about who will the flag bearer be,” said Shah. “I decided to lead the squad and it’s not a rigid rule that only athletes will lead their respective contingents.”
Shah added that the weightlifting officials had nominated Malik’s name without consulting with the management.
“The misunderstanding took place because their manager had nominated Malik’s names without informing me or other officials.”
POA launches inquiry
“The POA chief will chair a meeting of Pakistan contingent’s officials today to find out reasons for the tussle,” said an official part of the Pakistan contingent in New Delhi. He, however, did confirm that since the POA had taken up the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2010.