Asian Games 2018: IOA sets qualification criteria, plans to send 900-member contingent
On Saturday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced that only the top-six performers in individual events and the top-eight performers in team events in the last four years' continental competitions will be part of India's contingent for the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia later this year.
However, athletes who would have shown upscale performances will be considered. "For individual sport, the criteria is a top-six finish and in team sport, it is a top-eight finish (as per last Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea) will be eligible for selection," IOA president Narinder Batra said at a press conference in New Delhi.
"This is the criteria set by us and athletes need to meet this criterion. Athletes need to earn the Indian jersey," he continued before adding that they have shared the qualification criteria with the sports federations at the Executive Council Meeting held earlier in the day.
Batra also assured there will be no 'VIP treatment' and the criteria will be strictly adhered to for all athletes and teams.
The criteria essentially mean that even if an athlete or a team has crossed the performance criteria approved by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), he or she or they might not take part in the Asian Games. Batra, though, did add that the IOA's performance analysis team will consider athletes or teams who would have impressed in recent months.
There was some doubt as to whether or not the Sports Ministry would clear the Indian football team for the Asian Games last time around. This time, however, the Blue Tigers' consistent performances over the last one year or so has improved their chances of getting the nod.
"India's FIFA rankings have improved, and they have qualified for the Asian Championship (Asian Cup). They are currently No 16 in Asia but let's hope that they make it," Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General of the IOA, said.
Meanwhile, the IOA also announced that they have registered a total of 2370 members, which includes athletes and officials, for the upcoming Asiad. Of them,1938 are athletes, 399 are officials (including support staff), eight are from IOA, seven are from the Sports Ministry while 18 are from Sports Authority of India (SAI).
The list will be pruned down by June 30, 2018. In 2014, India had sent 541 athletes and won 57 medals across 28 disciplines. This year, the IOA expects to send over 620 athletes. Mehta said, "We are expecting that the final list will be of 620-plus athletes and 273 officials."