New Delhi: A cloud of doubt hangs over the Indian football and table tennis teams' participation in the upcoming Asian Games at government cost, with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) today hinting at dropping the two disciplines owing to slim medal hopes.
SAI Director General Jiji Thomson said dropping of some disciplines was necessary after the the Indian Olympic Association came up with a jumbo list of 935 athletes and officials for the September 19-October 4 Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The Indian contingent had 625 athletes at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. India is not sending teams in baseball, bowling, fencing, karate, modern pentathlon, rugby, softball, soft tennis and triathlon. There is a bright chance of a medal in cricket but the BCCI has decided against sending a team. "Besides the sports we have already decided to drop, we could also add table tennis, football and handball to that list. There is no chance of a medal in these disciplines. Our football team performed quite badly against Pakistan recently.
However, the honourable sports minister takes the final call on Monday," Thomson said here at a press meet. Indian football team has been taking part regularly in the Asian Games and it has never participated in the Games at federation's expense. In 1994, the then federation headed by Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi contemplated taking part at AIFF's expense after failing to get clearance from the government. He eventually did not send the team. India has been clubbed with United Arab Emirates and Jordan in Group G in the upcoming Asiad and the team has little chance to advance beyond the group stage as only two sides will make it to the next round.
The table tennis team, too, has been a regular at the continental event even though it has not been able to make an impact in the presence of mighty China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan. "We are okay with cutting down on our contingent if the need arises. Normally, we send a team of 10 but we can also do with sending a team of three for both men and women's event," said Dhanraj Choudhary, secretary general of Table Tennis Federation of India.
As far as the medal expectations go, the government is confident that India will better the 2010 tally of 65 medals. "We got 64 medals at the recent Commonwealth Games and I must say it was a satisfying performance. For Asian Games, we are confident of touching the 70-medal mark which would be better than last time," said Johnson. SAI is expecting bulk of the medals from shooting (10-14 medals) and athletics (12-16). India will feel the absence of cue sports, chess and roller sports in the Games as it had won a combined eight medals in the three disciplines in 2010.