Officials of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) has given and are still giving Sri Lankan archers the runaround and has all but ruined their chances of competing in the Asian Games to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.
The following is the sequence of events that led to a situation where the Sri Lanka Archery Association (SLAA) and the archers ended up getting short-changed by the NOC:
1. The SLAA held trials as early as April 2018
2. The following five (5) archers achieved qualifying standards and their names were submitted to the NOC by the SLAA: Sajeev De Silva, Nipun Seneviratne, Lakmal Rajasinghe, Chandana Abeygunasekera and Thisari Silva [Note: typically, sports associations submit a ‘long list’ which is duly pruned after trials; the SLAA fulfilled the overall criteria well ahead of all deadlines]
3. The SLAA was informed by the NOC on July 19 that only Sajeev Silva’s name had been approved [Note: Sajeev Silva had recorded the best performance at the trials while Thisari Silva came first among female archers. NOC has not explained the logic of dropping Thisari]
4. The SLAA made representations to the Ministry of Sports, believing that it was a ministry decision
5. The Ministry directed the SLAA to appeal to the National Selection Committee (NSC)
6. The NSC informed the SLAA that it only approves names submitted by the NOC.
7. The SLAA then went to NOC President Suresh Subramaniam who told them that it was too late, that the deadline (June 30) and advised the SLAA to obtain the green light from the Asian Archery Federation (AFF)
8. The AFF, responding to an email from SLAA said that they are unable to resolve the issue since ‘entries should be confirmed/approved by the particular country’s NOC’ and directed the SLAA to the Asian Games Organizing Committee (Archery)
9. The SLAA duly wrote to the Asian Games Organizing Committee (Archery)
10. The Asian Games Organizing Committee (Archery) wrote back intimating that since the ultimate participant of the 18th Asian Games is the NOC, the SLAA could ask NOC (Sri Lanka) to submit manual forms of entry by name and complete signature, stamp and AD number of the athletes
11. When the SLAA followed these instructions, the NOC General Secretary Maxwell de Silva informed the SLAA the Director of Asian Games had told the NOC that the entries had closed and new entries cannot be accommodated [Note: the archers mentioned above were not ‘new entries’ since they were already on the ‘long list’]
12. When the aggrieved archers met with Maxwell De Silva, he had mentioned the note from the Director of Asian Games
13. When it was pointed out to him that these were not ‘new names’ he had advised them to speak with Hemasiri Fernando who is the Vice President of the Asian Olympic Council, pointing out that Fernando could resolve the issue
14. Two archers, along with Faizer Mustapha, met with Hemasiri Fernando who assured everyone that the issue would be resolved
It is unclear why the NOC has been sending the archers around the proverbial mulberry bush. On a previous occasion two archers who met the qualifying standards were denied the opportunity take part in the Asian Games (Incheon, South Korea).
Moreover claim regarding deadlines and ‘new entries’ has been proven to be a lie since the NOC has accommodated an aggrieved athlete from a different sport who made representations to court over being ‘dropped’ in favor of the daughter of an NOC Vice President even though she had not taken part in the trials.
Also, the attitude of Subramaniam and De Silva are at odds with their rhetoric regarding Sri Lanka’s contingent to the Asian Games.
In July, addressing a media conference, Subramaniam said ‘We want to give everyone the opportunity to showcase their talent. In the past there have been instances where athletes, or sports, have tried to use influence to go to an international event. I’m giving everyone the chance to show us what they are capable of.’
Subramaniam also boasted about the record number of athletes being sent to the Asian Games (185) while Maxwell De Silva expressed the belief that ‘the size of the Asian Games squad would serve as a clarion call to all local stakeholders that the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka was keen to promote sports and provide opportunities for international participation.’
Participation and performance at the Asian Games is a requirement for taking part in the Olympics and if these archers are denied the opportunity it will automatically destroy their chances of representing Sri Lanka at the next Olympic Games.
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