New Delhi: As if spending a night on the road was not agonising enough, special athletes participating in the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in Chinese Taipei were left humiliated once again when their passports were confiscated for non-payment of hotel bills even though the Sports Ministry has now stepped in to diffuse the crisis.
Forty one athletes and 12 officials were supposed to take part in the Games but in final count only 27 actually travelled to Taoyuan for the event which began on October 3.
The Indians claim that the organisers had been notified about the pruned contingent a couple of weeks in advance but after reaching Taoyuan, the team was asked to cough up the bill for the rooms booked originally.
"Final approvals from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was received only on September 29 for 24 players + 3 officials as against our original request for team of 41+12. But necessary hotel bookings at Taiwan had to be confirmed to the Organisers by September 10," All India Sports Council of Deaf's Technical Advisor Somesh Sharma told PTI.
"Though we had requested for extension of date for confirmation of the team and even informed the organisers of the reduced team size on September 23.
"Now on arrival of the team, we are being directed to pay full hotel cost for 41+12 persons i.e. USD 7200 extra in total from the actual rooms occupied. Passports of our 27 participants and one foreign currency in Card have been confiscated by the Organisers and full payment is being demanded," he added.
Sharma said the Sports Ministry has now stepped in to deal with the situation. "Today we got letter from Mr Injeti Srinivas, DG SAI stating that he has instructed the Executive Director (Teams) to take immediate action to transfer necessary funds to salvage the situation," he said.
Earlier, these athletes were forced to sleep on pavements in their wait for visa here ahead of the competition. They spent a night outside a Gurudwara as authorities failed to provide accommodation to them. Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had ordered an enquiry into the matter.