Chances brighten for Indian men's handball team to feature in Asian Games
New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) may not have named the men's handball team in the country's contingent for the upcoming Asian Games as yet but the case for its inclusion got stronger after the Continental body said that Indian side is ranked seventh among the participating countries.
When the IOA released a list of 524 athletes for the Asian Games on July 5, the men's handball was not included in it but surprisingly the Indian team featured in the draw of competition for the Games, conducted by the Asian Handball Federation.
The Asian body today sent a letter to the national federation that the country's handball team was ranked seventh among the participants.
The IOA had said that it had named the contingent on the basis of the criteria that top six finishers in individual events and top eight finishers in team events were allowed to take part in the August 18 to September 2 Asian Games in Indonesia.
"We are pleased to inform that the Indian men's handball team has qualified for the Asian Games due to their performance place in the 18th Asian Men's Championships which took place in Korea during 2018," a letter from AHF Secretary General Muhammad Shafiq to Handball Federation of India Secretary General Anandeshwar Pandey said.
The Indian men's team had finished 12th in the Asian Championships but five countries -- Australia, Uzbekistan, China, Oman and UAE -- which were placed above India are not taking part in the Asian Games.
"The Indian men's team was ranked 12th in the Asian Championships but as per AHF competition regulations if any team which will not participate in a championship (Asian Games) which they have played to qualify, then the next ranked team automatically take their place and qualify," the letter said.
"Please note that the teams from Australia, Uzbekistan, China, Oman and UAE are not participating in the Asian Games and so the Indian men handball team is now ranked 7th and has qualified for the 18th Asian Games. The Indian men's team is already included in the draw ceremony and matches scheduled to play in the Asian Games."
Pandey said the national federation is hopeful of the men's team making it to the Asian Games and he will take up the matter with the IOA.
"I am going to present our case to the IOA. I have written to the IOA bringing this point out that the men's team is ranked 7th among the participating teams. I have requested the IOA to send the 'by name entry' of the team to the Asian Games organisers. I am hoping that the men's team will be cleared soon for the Asian Games," said Pandey who is also IOA treasurer.
He said that since the men's team was included in the draw, India could be fined if it is to withdraw from the competition.
An IOA official said that the case of men's handball may be looked into.
"We will see after the NSF presents the letter from the Asian body to us. If the reasons given by the Asian body is very clear, then we can look into it," said the IOA official on the condition of anonymity.
According to the men's handball draw of the Asian Games, 13 teams have been divided into four groups. The group comprising India has four teams will other groups have three teams each.
India are in Group D alongside Bahrain, Chinese Taipei, India and Iraq.
The India's women's handball team has been already cleared by the IOA and it has been placed in a five-team group comprising South Korea, Kazakhstan, China and North Korea