New Delhi: The 12th South Asian Games, which the IOA allotted to Kerala recently as a reward for successfully hosting the 35th National Games, has now been taken away and awarded to Assam and Meghalaya.
The Union Sports Ministry left Kerala in the lurch after the State started preparations to stage the sporting event in October-November. The decision to change the venue follows the stubborn stand by Union Sports Minister and Assam native Sarbananda Sonowal.
Last month, the IOA had offered Kerala the chance to host the games, after the Assam government expressed difficulties in conducting the event. However, the Union government, which takes the final call, has decided to hold the 12th SAF Games in Guwahati and Shillong.
Though the governments in both Assam and Meghalaya were apprehensive over the arrangements being completed within the stipulated time, they have now expressed their willingness to host the games after assurances from the Union government that it would bear the entire expenses for building the infrastructure and holding the event.
After officially communicating the decision to change the venue to Kerala, the IOA as compensation has assured the State that it will host the next international games, which is allotted to the country.
The 12th SAF Games, which involves competition between the eight South Asian countries, was initially supposed to be held in New Delhi in 2012. However, it was delayed due to several reasons. The IOA then decided to stage the games after the National Games.
Union Sports Minister Sonowal had expressed his desire to host the games in any of the Northeastern states. However, IOA was keen on staging the games in Kerala, which had successfully hosted the National Games.
The IOA had written to all three states – Kerala, Assam and Meghalaya – seeking their interest in hosting the games. However, only Kerala replied favourably. Assam said it cannot bear the huge expenses for the hosting the SAF Games, while Meghalaya’s response was also negative.
The IOA then sought opinion directly from the States. Assam and Meghalaya stuck to their earlier stance that they would be unable to meet the expenses for staging the event.
Kerala Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan then informed IOA secretary Rajeev Mehta that Kerala would be happy to host the games. Following this, IOA officially informed Kerala to be ready to host the Games later this year.
However, when the IOA sought permission from the Union Sports Ministry to make an official announcement, Sonowal intervened. The Union Sports Minister spoke directly to the Chief Ministers’ of Assam and Meghalaya and convinced them to change their decision. (ENe)