Lamenting that archers Deepika Kumari and Ankita Bhakat were forced to compete under the IOC flag, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday urged the national federations to not be involved in anything that leads to their suspension.
The Archery Association of India was suspended due to administrative turmoil, forcing the country’s archers to compete under the IOC flag.
Kumari won a gold while Bhakat bagged a silver at Asian Championships, the continental qualification tournament held in Bangkok. “We don’t want out athletes to compete under neutral flag. The national sports federations must not do anything that leads to suspension,” Rijiju said. “There should not be any factions. All the federations have to come together and we are willing to help all.”
The Minister spoke after handing over national awards to wrestler Bajrang Punia (Khel Ratna), discuss thrower Tejinder Pal Singh Toor (Arjuna), his coach MS Dhillon (Dronacharya) and runner Mohammed Anas Yahia (Arjuna) in a simple ceremony.
Punia and Toor had missed the National Sports Day ceremony in August due to their preparations for the World Championships. “Since the day I took over, I have been meeting athletes and trying to help. We have record number of Olympic quota this time. We have world class athletes and a few are really strong contenders,” Rijiju said.