Participation of Sri Lankan athletes will hurt feelings of Tamils

Stepping up her campaign against the Sri Lankan government after the emergence of what appeared to be new evidence of war crimes, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday announced that the State would not host the 20th Asian Athletics Championships to be held here in July.

The participation of Sri Lankan athletes would hurt the feelings of Tamils, she said, in a statement. The Asian Athletics Association (AAA), Singapore, which conducts the championships, would be asked to conduct the event elsewhere.

The Chief Minister on Wednesday condemned the Sri Lankan government over the alleged cold-blooded killing of Balachandran, son of the slain LTTE chief V. Prabakaran, terming it an “inhuman act”.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said her government wrote to the AAA, seeking the exclusion of the Sri Lankan contingent from the event. This was in view of the Sri Lankan government acting repeatedly against Tamils.

The sporting body had also been requested to intimate Sri Lanka in an appropriate way the State government's decision.

The AAA was requested to inform the State government of the follow-up action. Copies of the government's letter to the Association were sent to Secretaries of Union Ministries of External Affairs and Sports. “But there has been no reply or information from the Association so far,” she pointed out.

Ms. Jayalalithaa added that “since there has been no favourable response from the AAA, my government will at no cost accept holding the event, in which Sri Lanka is also participating, in Tamil Nadu. Tamils also will not accept it.”

The Chief Minister recalled that she ordered the return of Sri Lankan football players who were in Chennai for a friendly match in September last.

In July and August, after she stoutly opposed training given to defence officials of Sri Lanka at the Air Force Station, Tambaram, near Chennai, and Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, in Nilgiris district, the officials were withdrawn from the training programmes.

The Chief Minister said she had written a number of letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that no training should be given to Sri Lankan officials anywhere in the country including in Tamil Nadu.