Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is pressing the Union Sports Ministry for clearance of all the rejected teams for the Doha Asian Games.

The IOA President, Suresh Kalmadi, told a press conference on Wednesday that he expected the Government to clear all teams at its cost and in case that did not materialise, the teams would go under the "no-cost" formula.

387 cleared

So far, the ministry has cleared 387 members of the Indian contingent, as against the IOA proposal of 589. Twenty-four disciplines have been approved, leaving eight, including football, out.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) sources indicated on Wednesday that football had been cleared at no cost to Government, but Mr. Kalmadi said he had no information. "Football will definitely go," he, however, said.

Apart from football, rugby, handball, basketball, sepak takraw, fencing, tenpin bowling and triathlon have not been cleared by the ministry.

Asked whether any of these sports could be considered as having medal-winning prospects, Mr. Kalmadi said "some medals" could come. He pointed out that football was a popular sport while rugby was going to be a discipline in the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be hosted by New Delhi.

Exposure needed

The IOA President repeatedly stressed the importance of providing exposure to teams. Asked whether the Asian Games should be considered as a platform for such exposure, he said that other opportunities were limited.

Mr. Kalmadi also kept emphasising the fact that the Doha Organising Committee would be providing free board and lodging for 684 persons in the Indian contingent and the ministry had to pay only for airfare, ceremonial dress and pocket allowance. The airfare came only to around Rs. 13,000, he said.

Asked whether it was only a matter of airfare and such expenditure and whether the country's prestige was not involved in such events, Mr. Kalmadi said India would win enough medals in Doha. India had won 36 medals including 11 gold at the last Asian Games in Busan where the country entered a contingent of over 400. Only 12 of the 24 disciplines returned medals.

Women's hockey captain Jyoti Sunita Kullu will be the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony.

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