The 2026 Commonwealth Games (CWG) will be hosted by the southeastern state of Victoria in Australia. The announcement was made earlier this month as CWG returned to the country down under, having previously hosted the 2006 showpiece event in Melbourne. However, the announcement soon met with sharp criticism as it came to light that shooting, archery and wrestling had been removed from the list of sporting disciplines to be played during the event. The removal of these sporting disciplines comes as a shocker to the sporting world and especially India which has performed exceptionally well in them and has won a bucketful of medals, over the years.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) formally wrote a letter to the UK headquartered Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and strongly recommended the inclusion of shooting, archery and wrestling in the Games programme for the 2026 CWG.
IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta in his letter to CGF President, Dame Louise Martin said, “We have learned that the organisers have selected 16 sports to compete in the 2026 edition of the games but, Shooting, Wrestling, and Archery were dropped from the sports list. It is really shocking for CGA India to know these three very popular sports in the sporting world were ignored by the CGF,…”
He further added, “The CGA India is very strongly recommending the inclusion of shooting, wrestling and archery as part of the 2026 CWG sports programme. Since the sports of 2026 Games are organised in various cities, the host country cannot have any reservations to conduct these three sports also. We also request to include our request in the agenda of the next CGF General Assembly so that it can be discussed and to take favourable decisions by the House.”
Sports Ministry demands answers
Meanwhile, Union sports minister Anurag Thakur has asked the IOA to give information on who represented the apex sports body when such a decision impacting Indian sports was being taken by the CGF.
Quoted as saying by ANI, Anurag stated, “The Sports Ministry would like to ask the IOA what was the reason that shooting and wrestling were not made a part of Commonwealth Games 2026 and who went to take part in the meeting when this decision was taken, in which situation this decision was taken.”
Biggest medals hauls have come from Shooting, Wrestling and Archery
In the last three editions of the CWG, India has won 63 medals in shooting and 44 medals in wrestling. On a whole, shooting is India’s strongest sport in CWG with 135 medals while wrestling has fetched 102 medals for the country’s athletes. As for archery, which has featured in only two editions of CWG with the last being in 2010, India had won eight medals in New Delhi, including three golds.
Thus, it can be ascertained that India has dominated the game in these disciplines. Removing them from the initial list without any proper reason suggests that CGF is taking arbitrary decisions to the detriment of Indian athletes.
And it’s not the first instance either. Shooting has already been removed from the Birmingham CWG roster. It led to a furore with IOA even threatening a boycott. It was later proposed that shooting and archery could be held separately in India, but the plan was scrapped after it became clear any medals will not be added to the Games tally.
What is the need of Commonwealth?
The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire. All talk of the Commonwealth sharing objectives of democracy, human rights, liberty and sporting goodwill, however, is hogwash.
The CGF is one of the most biased and incompetent organisations to exist and its abhorrence for India has come out in the open in the last few weeks. If the trend of rigging the event continues, it is high time that India pulls out of CWG and shows the organising body its place.
Hockey India pulled out of Birmingham CWG after UKs vaccine racism
The partisanship from the colonialists was evident when the United Kingdom last year passed a confounding rule stating that Indian travellers who had received both doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca developed Covishield vaccine will be considered unvaccinated. To add insult to injury, the rule added that double vaccinated Indians will have to undergo mandatory hard quarantine for 10 days.
Consequently, India slapped London with reciprocal measures targeting travellers from the UK to India. It was during this time that Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam communicated the federation’s decision to not participate in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
The Hockey India President in a letter wrote, “You will appreciate that the Asian Games is the Continental qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and keeping the priority of the Asian Games in mind, Hockey India cannot risk any members of the Indian teams contracting COVID-19 during the Commonwealth Games.”
— Suresh 🇮🇳 (@surnell) October 5, 2021
However, after negotiations between CGF, Narinder Batra, the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the head of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) were organised to satiate India, it was decided that the country will send its reserve teams to the quadrennial event.
Pull out of Commonwealth
India is one of the top teams in Hockey, having recently won the Tokyo Olympics Bronze medal. Thus, Hockey India sending its reserve team will severely dent the viewership numbers, which ought to teach a lesson to CGF.
If CGF is allowed to get scot-free without any significant protest, it could set a dangerous precedent for future events. India needs to pile the pressure and work with the UK and Australian governments to fix the issue. Otherwise, India should consider pulling out of the Commonwealth. There is no need to stay in a system that is rigged and obviously racist towards Indians.