The Sports Ministry on Tuesday announced that it will bear the cost of kits and uniforms of the Asian Games-bound athletes, whose federations are not affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association. A day earlier, IOA refused to cover these expenses for the athletes’ uniforms for the opening and closing ceremony. The athletes were also told that they would have to sponsor their own kits.

The IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta had stated that the expenses of the ceremonial dress and playing kits of the athletes do not come from its coffers. He claimed that cost will be funded by the sponsors, who have signed a contract with it to deal with only the affiliated federations.

He said the IOA cannot force the sponsors Li Ning (apparel) and Raymond (ceremonial dress) to also take care of those athletes, who are from non-affiliated federations. Mehta said this has been an established norm and the IOA has never foot the bill of non-Olympic sports and the ones not affiliated with it.

He also said the Rs 50 lakh insurance offer to the athletes by Edelweiss does not the cover players from non-affiliated federations. “We are sending more than 540 athletes and more than 200 officials and the expenses for their attire run into crores and IOA has limited resources. So we signed these contracts with the sponsors but they cover only the players of the federations affiliated to the IOA and not outside it,” Mehta told PTI.

“The sponsors get commercial value from association with us. They (sponsors) get commercial mileage from it, say from the interviews, branding or endorsement of their products by the top athletes, so they get benefit from these contracts. We cannot force them to deal with athletes not affiliated to us,” he added.

He said even in the 2014 Asian Games, the IOA had not borne the expenses of the attire of the athletes. “Everybody knows the government bears all these expenses, we are not a rich organisation,” Mehta said. “The federations who are not affiliated to us but have recognition from the government will get their reimbursement later,” he added.

Asked about federations such as kurash, spot climbing and pencak silat who are neither affiliated to the IOA nor recognised by the Sports Ministry, Mehta said, “If they have got recognition from Olympic Council of Asia (hence taking part in the Asian Games) but are yet to get recognition from the Sports Ministry, what can we do? We are not involved in that.”

Out of the 37 sports India is competing in the Asian Games, seven governing federations – bridge, kurash, pencak silat, roller skating, sambo, sepaktakraw, soft tennis, and sport climbing – are not recognised by IOA. These sports constitute 114 athletes out of the 541 announced so far by the IOA.

Out of these bridge, pencak silat, roller skating, sepaktakraw and soft tennis are recognised by the Sports Ministry while kurash, sambo and sports climbing federations are not.