With the Tamil Nadu Government refusing to host Sri Lankan athletes on political grounds, the third leg of the Asian Grand Prix scheduled to be held in Chennai on May 16 has now been shifted to Colombo.

After the Tamil Nadu Government cancelled the prestigious Asian athletics championship scheduled to be held in Chennai from July 3 to 7, the Asian Athletics Association has decided to hold the third leg of the Asian GP in Colombo on May 12.

Special Correspondent adds from Chennai:

Meanwhile, the President of the Athletics Federation of India Adille Sumariwalla said that the Asian body had not taken any decision on shifting the Asian GP from India. “It has been allotted to us and so our concern is to shift it from Chennai to some other venue in the country. It could be Pune, New Delhi or even Ranchi where we have good facilities. But to our best effort we will ensure the championship is conducted in India,” he said.

As for the shifting of the Grand Prix he said this would not affect Indian athletes. “They will participate. Absolutely sure,” he said.

The President of the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association, W.I. Davaram, said he was not at all surprised at the change of venue.

“It was expected,” he said. “Even in the first place when the Asian championship was allotted to us, this Grand Prix was given to us even though we were not keen about it. To that extent it was just as well that this has happened now,” he said.

As for the participation of Indian athletes for the Colombo meet, Davaram, who is also the AFI vice-president, said it was difficult for him to say anything. “All the national athletes, including those from Tamil Nadu, are in the camp,” he said. He added that missing one leg of the competition was not a major issue.

He said he hoped the city would have a brand new stadium for the national inter-State athletics championship, scheduled from June 4 to 7.

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