New Delhi: Pakistan will not participate in the three-day 2015 Track Asia Cup cycling championships to be held here from Wednesday, officials confirmed on Monday. The second edition of the tournament, organised by the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), will be held at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex’s indoor cycling velodrome.
A list of 13 teams from 10 countries including hosts India will participate in the event, which will see around 150 athletes contesting in several categories. Only five countries took part in the inaugural edition of the event last year.
Pakistan was also invited by CFI for the Class 1 Olympic qualifier event but it didn’t express interest in participating. “Like for all Asian countries, we invited Pakistan. But didn’t get any official response from them,” CFI assistant secretary V.N Singh told IANS on Monday.
He insisted there was no official communique from the central government not to invite Pakistan despite the heightened political tensions between the two countries that has marred sporting relations in the past.
Presently it is threatening to ruin the proposed India-Pakistan cricket series scheduled at the end of the year. “Pakistan didn’t offer any official reason for their non participation but said they are going through internal problems in their federation,” CFI secretary general Onkar Singh told IANS. “I spoke to their federation’s officials who said that their parent body is in the middle of a power battle with two factions staking claim to being the officially recognised body.”
Pakistan notwithstanding, other Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thailand, Iran, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan will participate in the event. Kazakhstan will bring two teams for participation while India will field three teams.
The 20-member Indian team’s campaign will once again be spearheaded by multiple Track Asia Cup medal-winner Deborah, ranked 10th in the time trial category. Attention will also fall on Sahil Kumar, a gold medallist in Asia Track Cup in Bangkok in the junior boys section recently.
Onkar hoped the hosts will produce a strong performance to gather vital points for the Olympics.
He also thanked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for giving permission to send a seven member team (five cyclists + two coaches) to the World Cycling Centre, Aigle in Switzerland for a six-week training course.