LAhore  - Tension between the two factions of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) escalates as the Asian Games are around the corner.
When it was time to resolve the issue being faced by the Pakistan players and sports due to international isolation as well as less participation in international events, and the two faction of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) must sit together to resolve their the issues keeping in mind national interest, but they further add fuel to the fire by holding two separate press conferences on the same day and same agenda.
The IOC is the mother body of all its affiliated National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of every country and without its go ahead, no country can take part in its recognised Games. The Gen Arif-led POA is approved by the IOC which also got go ahead from the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry for the participation in the Asian Games.
When IOC-recognised NOC is all set to launch its campaign to keep medal winning hope alive and finalized its contingents for the Games, the other faction of the POA led by Maj Gen (r) Akram Sahi, which according to the IOC is illegal but was backed by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), is trying to deprive Pakistan players of their due rights and representing the ‘green flag’ in the Games.
According to the PSB-backed POA, if the country doesn’t take part in any continental or international activity, it is not a big deal but when IOC-backed POA secretary Khalid Mahmood was asked about it, he said: “When any athlete represents his country’s flag in any continental or international activity, it is a great honour not only for him but also for the entire nation, so being one of the favourites, we must represent green flag in the Asian Games and it’s our players due right as well.” On Saturday, the IOC-approved POA in its meeting held here at a local hotel finalised the names of 200 athletes for the 17th Asian Games 2014 to be held in Incheon, Korea in September. The meeting was attended by all the 24 federations of the POA except Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) which didn’t send players name for accreditation.
POA president Lt Gen (r) Arif Hassan presided over the meeting which set April 30, 2014 as final date for the finalization of accreditation for the Asian Games scheduled to be held in September this year. In its recent executive council meeting held at the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry had asked all the federations to contact the IOC-recognised body for the accreditation.
It is very unfortunate for a country when it is preferred over vested interests of a few people. It is moral duty of every patriot countryman to set aside his personal interests and egos when it comes to the country’s benefit. Maj Gen (r) should give a proof of real sportsman spirit which he displayed on the day of POA election when soon after losing the elections; he accepted Gen Arif as POA chief and wished his group best of luck. Now the time is ripe when he should act in the same way, and let Gen Arif and co complete their work and tenure and when their tenure completes, the battle field will open to settle all the clashes.
Now the contingent finalized by Gen Arif must be given free hand by the government and the other faction to prepare well for the Asian Games in the camps which are being held at the PSB which includes not a single athlete approved by IOC-baked POA. When these legal Pakistani athletes will be allowed to train hard in the camps and will be provided all the basic and modern facilities, they will surely earn glory for the country in return.
The Prime Minister Main M Nawaz Sharif, who is also a sports lover, must look into the matter and should ask the IPC Ministry and other concerned departments to fully cooperate with the Gen Arif-led POA as it is the only solution which can save the country’s sports from further decline.