With many plans grounded , serious questions are being asked about the State Government's commitment to sports

Serious questions are now being asked about the State Government's commitment to sports. The recent budget did provide for an allocation of Rs. 1.67 crores for the conduct of a State Olympics in the city, which was initiated back in 2004 as a biennial event but never took off. The Youth National Games, an initiative of the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) is yet to take shape, although it was recently announced that it will be held sometime by the year-end. The games, ahead of the Youth World Championships in Pune next year would be an ideal yardstick not only to gauge talents at that level but also prepare for the event. But then the oft-postponed games are yet to get the final nod from the State Government. A national-level event of that scale would need a lot more time and manpower to be realised. And with the announcement of the State Olympics almost around the same time, the constraints with regard to finance and Government machinery is bound to be felt.KOA president K. Govindaraj is hopeful of making the games a reality and a success. But then the logistics involved are much larger than one can imagine. Govindaraj on his part has plans to make Karnataka a super sports power yet again and wants the Government to invest in more infrastructure. "Let the Government create four stadiums with synthetic tracks and the works along with four cycling velodromes in the four zones in the State. The central grant can be well utilised for the same. Also the plan to conduct the State Olympic Games at different districts will ensure the building up of infrastructure and sprucing up of the existing ones," he feels. Pankaj Advani won the IBSF World Snooker title way back in 2003 in China and claimed the IBSF World Billiards double crown (time and points format) in 2005 at Malta. But till date, despite promises, he is yet to lay his hands on the promised plot of land. In fact, after his return from the Doha Asian Games with a gold medal, there has been very little even in the form of appreciation while neighbouring states Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have rewarded athletes and sportspersons with cash bonanzas. National games medallists too have been ignored while the Ekalavya awards (a symbol of recognition at the State level), has been revived after nearly four years. The State Government has to act and act soon enough to stop the exodus of the State athletes to greener pastures, experts feel. There have already been stories regarding the options that state swimmers are exercising in terms of the next games in Jharkhand. Options include switching allegiance to either Jharkhand or Andhra Pradesh where a gold medallist is richer by Rs. five lakh, silver by Rs. three lakh and a bronze fetches Rs. two lakh. AVINASH NAIR

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