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Birmingham Commonwealth Games chief defends shooting snub

Commonwealth Games | Published:

The organisers of the 2022 Commonwealth Games have defended their decision to exclude shooting from the programme in Birmingham, a controversial move that has prompted India to consider a boycott.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games chief defends shooting snub

Shooting has been included in every Games since 1974 but is not one of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s “core sports” and was not listed as an optional sport in Birmingham’s bid for the multi-sport event.

In September 2018, five sports – archery, beach volleyball, cricket, para table tennis and shooting – expressed their wish to be part of the Games and an assessment panel - comprised of representatives from local and national government, as well as Birmingham 2022’s organising committee and Commonwealth England - was set up to weigh each sport’s case.

Last month, Birmingham 2022 announced that beach volleyball, para table tennis and women’s cricket had been successful but archery and shooting were out, much to the annoyance of British Shooting and International Shooting Sport Federation, which had offered to subsidise the costs of staging the event at Bisley, the Surrey venue used for the 2002 Commonwealths in Manchester.

That sparked an angry reaction in India, where shooting has been a fertile hunting ground for medals over the years, and over the weekend it emerged that the India Olympic Association has written to the sports ministry for talks about a “proposed boycott”.

While this would appear to be an extreme reaction to an organisers’ decision to exclude an optional sport for cost, legacy and logistical reasons - particularly when India’s favourite sport, cricket, has been included - the fact it has even been threatened is alarming for an event that has been bankrolled by £788million of public money and is meant to be an advert for global, post-Brexit Britain.

In a statement, Birmingham 2022’s chief executive Ian Reid said: “We want every single nation and territory eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games, including India, to be in Birmingham in 2022. They are all assured an extremely warm welcome from a city and a region that is home to 187 nations.”

Reid then outlined how and why shooting was excluded from the programme, saying the proposed venue at Bisley “offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands, in a Games with a significant proportion of funding coming from the region”.

He also explained that the assessment panel offered shooting a chance to make a Birmingham-based proposal for just two of its four disciplines - small bore rifle and pistol - but the compromise was rejected by the sport.

The three choices for the optional sports, all of which fit neatly into existing or planned infrastructure in Birmingham, were approved by the CGF’s board last month and are expected to be ratified by a vote of the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations in the coming weeks. “We have spoken with the CGF and understand senior executives hope to meet with the Indian Olympic Association soon to discuss their concerns,” added Reid.”It’s our hope that we will be welcoming India to Birmingham in 2022.”

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