The Sports Authority of India’s timely intervention has paved the way for the country’s participation in the Deaflympics at Sofia, Bulgaria, after the athletes were left to fend for themselves following bitter infighting between two rival factions.

Another glaring example of how the National Sports Federations (NSFs) work in India came to the fore after rival factions, engaged in an ugly battle for supremacy, failed to send the entries on due date, thus prompting the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf to directly get in touch with the SAI.

Mark Cooper, CEO, International Committee for Deaf Sports (ICSD) flew in to Delhi to hold an urgent meeting with SAI DG Jiji Thomson and the presidents of rival federations to break the impasse and work out a formula for India’s participation in the 18 individual events at July 26 to August 4 quadrennial event.

“It is hereby accepted by the undersigned that we accept SAI to be the main organisation to decide the matter for the selection of the team, preparation of the teams and sending in the entry for the participation of the Indian Deaf Team (Athletes, coaches and supporting staff) in the Deaflympics 2013 at Sofia, Bulgaria from July 26, 2013 to August 4, 2013,” said a statement signed by E.K. Jose and Rajiv Sharma of the All India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) in the presence of Cooper.

“We also agree to send in the best athletes from both the factions for the selection trials and the selected athletes will take part in the national coaching camp prior to the final selection of the team to participate in the Deaflympics 2013.

“Further, it is also accepted that till this issue is resolved, SAI will be responsible for sending the Indian Deaf teams for other international competitions. We also agree to resolve the issue before December 2013 and if necessary we shall have an AGM,” the statement added.

Cooper, after holding the meeting with the SAI and AISCD officials, told PTI that the athletes will participate under the Indian tri-colour and the country’s flag will be hoisted during the Opening ceremony on July 26.

“In just over two months’ time, the Indian flag will be carried into the opening ceremony of the Deaflympics. The athletes will participate under the Indian flag as part of the special consideration given to them by the International Committee for Deaf Sports,” said Cooper.

He said a final list of the athletes will be prepared from the two competitions held earlier this year in Aurangabad and Bangalore.

“These two events were organised separately by the rival factions (Sharma, who organised National Deaf Games at Bangalore and Jose who organised National Deaf games at Aurangabad). The selected athletes from these events will attend the training and selection camp organised by SAI for Deaflympics.

“SAI will work on the teams from technical perspective. Both the rival factions have agreed to resolve their dispute by the end of this year by holding the AGM and fresh elections, failing which it will result in the de-recognition of the AISCD by the ICSD,” he informed.

Cooper said all the deaf athletes were unanimous in their views that SAI should send the Indian team and thanked Thomson and Roque Dias, Regional Director, SAI (LTDP — Youth OG’20), for their efforts.

It has been learnt that Cooper held separate meetings with Union Sports Minister Jitendra Singh and sports secretary P.K. Deb, Thomson and other top SAI officials, office-bearers of two rival factions, who were accompanied by a Supreme Court lawyer of each faction and with the athletes and state association officials.

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