In reply to a Delhi High Court directive to formulate a uniform policy, the Government of India on Friday decided to allow only Indian citizens to represent the country in any sporting event who can avail themselves of government assistance.
Earlier the court had asked the government in a question mark whether Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) are eligible to represent the country. In the absence of a uniform national policy on the matter different sports federation have been following different rules in this regard, the ministry said in a statement.
In a recent development, the Squash Racket Federation of India (SRFI) had restricted the representation of the country only to the citizens of India. It was later challenged by other players in Delhi High Court.
The Ministry of Sports then consulted with several recognised National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Majority of opinion came in favour of restricting India’s representation in international sporting events to players who carry Indian passports.
Henceforth, only player who is an Indian citizen will be allowed to carry the flag of India and represent the country in any national or international sports competition. Whether the government should give preference to the local talent in nurturing and training with an objective to reach international standard ahead of a non-citizen was in the debate and discussion.
After taking comments from various sports representative bodies of the country, the government finally took the decision. However, the decision might bring another round of talk from the part of players who don’t possesses Indian citizenship but wants to represent the country on the grounds of specific rights conferred upon them.