World Ch’ships: Top Indian judokas allege favouritism in selection

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Leading Indian judo players have alleged favouritism by the Judo Federation of India (JFI) in the selection of a two-member team for next month’s World Championships, at which a solitary Asian continental berth for the upcoming Olympic Games is on offer.

“I’ve been deliberately excluded from the World Championships, which is the last Olympic qualification event. It is unfair on the part of the JFI to pick up two players and drop others without a valid reason. Our efforts to reach out to the federation has proved futile,” a player who has been dropped from the team told IANS.

The aggrieved players in their communication to Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Monday have requested SAI to intervene to sort out the issue. “We are waiting for the response,” said the player.

India’s five leading judokas — Vijay Yadav (mens 60 kg), Jasleen Singh Saini (men’s 66kg), Avtar Singh (men’s 100kg), Sushila Devi (women’s 48 kg), and Tulika Mann (women’s 78kg) — were selected last year in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

There is a marginal difference in ranking points, said a player. “Saini has approximately 920 while Singh has 724. One win in the World Championships will fetch 200 points. Depending on the draws, anyone can improve his/her ranking. Since there is one continental quota place, the player with maximum points would be eligible to earn a ticket to the Olympics,” said the player.

Sushila with 989 points is top ranked Indian judoka. Yadav is fourth with 673 and Tulika is fifth with 446 points.

JFI’s assistant secretary CS Rajan confirmed that only Saini and Sushila have been selected for the Budapest World Championship. “It is the decision of the JFI’s technical committee. I can’t comment why the other three have been dropped,” he said.

Eight months ago, the JFI in coordination with the SAI selected five judokas — Yadav, Saini, Singh, Sushila, and Tulika — for the Hungarian Grand Prix in October and for other international competitions.

“The investment and efforts by the government would serve no purpose if players don’t get a chance to compete in the World Championships,” said an official familiar with the development.

In February, JFI secretary general Manmohan Jaiswal was suspended due to internal politics while interim secretary general Venkat Namishetty was unable to explain on what basis JFI selected the team for World meet.

“I don’t know how many players were shortlisted last year in preparation for the Olympic Games as I took over the office in February this year. But we are sending only two players for world meet,” was all he said.

Last month, a 16-member judo team was pulled out of Asian Oceania Olympic qualifier tournament in Bishkek as two players had tested positive for Covid-19 in the pre-event testing.

The World Championships will take place from June 6 to 13 in Budapest, Hungary.