New Delhi, Feb. 22 -- With the Tamil Nadu government firm on "not allowing Sri Lankan athletes" to compete in the 20th Asian Athletics Championships, to be held in Chennai in July, chances are that the continental event could be shifted to another city in the country or moved to another nation.
Following the statement of chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, condemning the alleged brutal killing of slain LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son by the Sri Lankan army, the state government has communicated to the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) that there is "no place for Lankan players" in the state.
The continental event, which was last staged in India in 1989, in New Delhi, assumes importance as it is a qualifying event for the World Athletics Championships, which will be held in Moscow from August 10.
Top athletes are eying the event to achieve qualification marks for the global meet, but with the latest development, they might have to change their plans.
The AAA might also have to reschedule the Asian Grand Prix as Chennai was the venue of the third leg, on May 16, and Sri Lankan athletes are supposed to compete in all the three legs. The first leg will be held in Bangkok on May 8, followed by the second leg in Colombo on May 12.
The AAA, based in Singapore, could not be reached for a reaction and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had a guarded response.
AFI secretary-general, CK Valson, said he was aware of the government statement, but his office is yet to receive a communication. "The moment we receive the letter from the government, the federation will be in a better position to comment on the fate of the event," he told HT over the phone from Chennai.
Valson said since the event had been allotted by the Asian body, the AFI could not change the venue or postpone the event without its approval.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.