ISLAMABAD: Almost all affiliated units of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) have confirmed their participation in the 32nd National Games to be held under the auspices of the Punjab Olympic Association (PbOA) in Lahore from December 22 to 28. The confirmation was made at a meeting held by the PbOA and attended by POA units at a local hotel in Lahore the other day. Talking to media after attending the meeting, PbOA secretary general Khawaja Idrees Haider said that huge gathering of POA-affiliated units reflected how much the Olympic family was desperate to take part in the country’s biggest sports gala. “Except for the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) secretary general, all POA units attended the meeting and confirmed their participation in the Games,” Idrees added.
However, Punjab Athletics Association president Salman Butt, who attended the meeting, assured the house that athletics events would be held in the Games. It is to be noted that athletics is the most important event of the Games with its results having major role in deciding the winner of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Idrees further said that besides officials of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan WAPDA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Police, Higher Education Commission and FATA, representatives of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan Olympics Associations also attended the meeting. Informing that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Olympic Association could not attend the meeting, he said that the association was busy hosting Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in Peshawar.
However, he said that the association had assented to participation in the Games over telephone. Punjab Sports Board (PSB) representative Jalil Chauhan informed all the units that attendance in the Games’ opening ceremony was necessary, warning that his department won’t pay any TA/DA to absentees. It is pertinent to mention that the Games’ fate hung in the balance due to infighting among some of the POA units after its election held in February this year besides political interference on the part of Punjab and federal governments. On the one hand, the Punjab government looked reluctant in patronising the Games, on the other, there are reports that the federal government was ready to patronise the Games on condition of naming it as ‘Benazir National Games.’ However, neither the POA nor the PbOA was ready to accept demands of the federal government with the IOC Charter barring member countries from attaching any other identity other than the national.
The following 27 disciplines will be included in the Games:
Athletics (men and women), baseball (men and women), bodybuilding (men), boxing (men), cycling (men and women), football (men and women), gymnastics (men), handball (men and women), hockey (men), ju-jitsu (men and women), Kabaddi (men), karate (men), rifle shooting (men and women), rowing (men), rugby (men), sailing (men), softball (men), squash (men and women), swimming (men and women) table tennis (men and women), taekwondo (men and women), tennis (men), tug of war (men), volleyball (men and women), weightlifting (men), wrestling (men) and wushu (men and women)