Games Baton reaches Tripura amid controversy

July 31st, 2010 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, July 31 (IANS) The Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games arrived in Tripura Saturday amid an unsavoury political controversy.
Frustrating the Tripura government’s attempt to receive the baton, it was received at the airport by the Tripura State Olympic Association (TSOA) president and Congress leader Gopal Roy. “TSOA is the affiliated body of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA),” Roy, also a legislator, told reporters.

The Tripura government has expressed its deep anguish over the development as its officials and sports persons had also gathered at the airport to receive the baton.

An angry Sports Minister Tapan Chakraborty lashed out: “As long as men like Suresh Kalmadi remain at the helm of affairs, India’s sports development can not be possible. The state government does not want politics over sports events like the Queen’s Baton Relay.”

Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Kalmadi, who is also president of IOA, in a letter to Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar last week sought his “indulgence to receive the baton by TSOA Chief Roy in the state according to the standard procedure laid down by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.”

Responding to Kalmadi’s letter, the Tripura government in a letter informed him that there are two Olympic associations in Tripura. “Hence, it would not be wise that one non-government association takes the baton,” the state government letter said.

“How and why did Kalmadi authorise opposition leader Roy to receive the baton bypassing the state government?” a visibly annoyed minister asked.

Recently, the state government-sponsored Tripura Olympic Association (TOA) was reconstituted under the presidentship of Industry Minister Jitendra Choudhury. The TOA has also sought affiliation to the Indian Olympic Association.

However, later in the day, Queen’s Baton Relay team director Col K.S. Banshtu handed over the baton to Sports Minister Chakraborty at a glittering function at the Umakanta school ground here. The rally passed through the city in the afternoon.

The baton has travelled nearly 177,000-km covering nearly 70 Commonwealth countries before it arrived from Pakistan to India (through the Wagah border) June 25 for the Games scheduled Oct 3-14 in New Delhi.

As part of the 100-day national circuit, the baton, weighing 1,900 gram, is now on tour across all states and union territories of India to connect with the maximum number of sports persons and common men.

“After travelling 20,000-km and covering all the states and union territories the baton would reach the national capital Sep 30,” Col Banshtu told IANS, adding that the baton has already covered 14 states, including seven northeastern states.

The nine-member Queen’s Baton Relay team headed by Col Banshtu would leave here Sunday for Kolkata.

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