There has been a change in mood in the Indian camp ahead of the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which takes place on Saturday.
Nearly a fortnight ago, Union sports minister Anurag Thakur was upbeat saying the Indian contingent has potential to win 100 medals in the Asian Games during a ceremony for unveiling of kit for the Indian athletes and officials. In the previous edition at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, the Indian contingent claimed 70 medals.
On Friday, the government in a statement said the sports minister will not attend the opening ceremony in protest against China’s unwarranted treatment of athletes from Arunachal Pradesh.
The day after reports surfaced that three wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh bound for Asian Games were denied visas by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, the government reacted firmly.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs said that the Chinese authorities have in a targeted and pre-mediated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the Asian Games.
“A strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons. China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from other states,” Bagchi said in a statement.
On the field, the Indian volleyball team had a good start and have reached the quarterfinals by defeating Chinese Taipei 3-0.
The Indian contingent for Hangzhou has 921 members, including 655 sportspersons.
Athletics has the biggest contingent of 68 athletes, including 35 in the men’s section followed by shooting (17 men and 16 women), rowing (20 men and 13 women) and hockey (18 men and 18 women).
Overall Indian teams will compete in 39 disciplines, three more than the previous edition held in Jakarta Asian Games in 2018.
At the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, Indian teams claimed as many as 70 medals, 16 of them gold. The Indian contingent also won 23 silver and 31 bronze medals. Of the 70 medals, the track and field contributed 20.
“Achieving a goal of 100 medals isn’t impossible but certainly a challenging task,” a retired international athlete and Olympian, who is part of the athletes’ commission, told Patriot.