Commonwealth Games 2022: Shooting exclusion defended by organisers

England's shooters
England's shooters won 15 medals - including five golds - at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

The organisers of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have defended their decision to exclude shooting from the programme.

The move has proved highly controversial, with India threatening to boycott the event if the sport is not reinstated.

The country has a proud record in shooting, and its Olympic association has said it is now considering pulling out of the Games.

But in a statement, Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid said the proposed location for shooting, at Bisley in Surrey, "offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands".

He said that an assessment process was "fair, logical and transparent" and that shooting was offered a chance to make a Birmingham-based proposal for just two of its four disciplines, but the compromise was rejected by the sport.

India and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) are now set to hold talks in a bid to resolve the crisis.

But the dispute involving such a major Commonwealth nation could cause alarm within government, which hopes the £788m event will be an advert for global, post-Brexit Britain and help secure trade deals.

Background

Shooting has been included in every Games apart from one since 1966, but is not one of the event's 'core sports'.

Last year, shooting - along with archery, beach volleyball, cricket and para table tennis - expressed its wish to be part of the Games.

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 assess each sport's case.

Last month, Birmingham 2022 announced that only beach volleyball, para table tennis and women's cricket had been successful.

The three chosen sports are expected to be ratified by a vote of the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations in the coming weeks.

Boycott threat

Over the weekend it emerged Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra had written a letter to sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking a meeting to explain a "proposed boycott".

In an unprecedented move, the IOA also wrote to the CGF saying they were "compelled to reflect on our standing within the Commonwealth movement", and that the country was pulling out of the CGF's general assembly in September.

However, former shooter Abhinav Bindra, the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics, has voiced his opposition to pulling out of Birmingham 2022.

"Boycotts don't win you influence. They just make you irrelevant and punish other athletes," he said on Twitter.

"Would be far better if IOA did a campaign to load the CWG committees with their people and allies and push for the inclusion of shooting onto the core list of sports for the future."

Indian shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year's Gold Coast Games, where the country finished third in the medals table.

Reid said: "We want every single nation and territory eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games, including India, to be in Birmingham in 2022.

"It's our hope that we will be welcoming India to Birmingham in 2022."

India hosted the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

"We absolutely want India to participate wholeheartedly in Birmingham 2022 and look forward to meeting our colleagues in India over the coming months to discuss their concerns and future ambitions," said CGF spokesman Tom Degun.

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