AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
“The government will be writing to IOA (Indian Olympic Association) on Thursday that we will be paying the hosting rights fee imposed by them on us under protest and that they immediately let us know whether we can host the National Games from November 1 to 16 or earlier,” Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told The Navhind Times.
“We believe the fee or fine, whatever they want to call it, is unjustified. Yet, we are taking this step forward because we want our youngsters to get a chance to display their talent at the national level. It is for them that we are paying the amount in protest,” added Sawant.
The IOA had agreed to postpone the 36th National Games after a high powered meeting with the late chief minister Manohar Parrikar on January 29, 2019. Subsequent to the meeting, the IOA informed the government that a fine of Rs ten crore was “to be levied from the government of Goa for extended delay in hosting the National Games.”
The government had on May 7 expressed unwillingness in paying the amount and had instead asked IOA to confirm the dates so as to fine tune preparations to host the Games in November.
The IOA, on its part, replied saying: “After considerable evaluation of the facts therein, it was decided that the government of Goa shall pay an amount of Rs six crore to IOA as added hosting right fee.”
“Apart from giving our sportspeople the opportunity to compete nationally, we will be able to take stock of not how well they are prepared but how well our coaches are performing. The fee will be paid under strong protest,” reiterated Sawant whilst elaborating on the reason for paying under protest.
“The IOA is absolutely not justified in asking us to pay. We are doing it because it is an opportunity for our children. That is why our protest is going to be strong,” added Sawant.
“Our late chief minister Manohar Parrikar wanted the Games for our sportspeople and I too think it will be a good chance for our boys and girls to measure themselves against the rest in India. The money they (IOA) are asking will be paid so as to give our children a chance,” claimed Sports Minister Babu Ajgaonkar who was earlier adamant that Goa will not pay the fees.
“It is the first time that Goa will be hosting the National Games,” stated Ajgaonkar.
“After I had said that IOA was ready to bring the fee down to Rs five crore, the IOA secretary had a talk with Sports Secretary to which I have no preview. I do not know what they spoke but after that talk the figure of Rs six crore was decided,” said Goa Olympic Association (GOA) secretary Gurudutta Bhakta.
“I am sure that the IOA will reduce the figure to Rs five crore if the Goa government indicates that in writing to IOA. We have to work on the principle that nothing is impossible,” clarified Gurudutta when asked if IOA would scale down from the demand of Rs six crore. The Goa government is expected to stipulate a deadline wherein the IOA will need to confirm the hosting dates as it requires three months to get all the equipment.
“If the IOA does not inform us before the end of this month, it will be impossible to get all the equipment ready for the Games by October or November. Goa will be hosting the International Film Festival from November 20 and that is why the window of November 1 to 16 was given to IOA,” stated a senior member.