Gold Coast: Saina Nehwal has been in the news since Monday after she vented her anger at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for denying accreditations to her father, Harvir Singh Nehwal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village in Australia. Matters got so worse, that the ace Indian shuttler threatened to pull out of the tournament if her father was denied entry.
However, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sorted the issue out on Wednesday and granted access to Mr Nehwal at the Games Village. However, many fans are still upset about Saina’s stance about not playing any matches and the badminton star expressed her views once again on the issue.
“I had made the payment and booked tickets for my father. The federation or the IOA confirmed to me that it’s sorted out. When you tell me something, and when I am paying you the whole thing… but this is not about money, it is about respect. Imagine if your parent is there with you and made to look for a place to stay at midnight,” she was quoted saying by The Indian Express.
Saina later filed a written complaint to the IOA over their failure about informing her that her father would be denied access and said she was shown lack of respect due to which she decided to pull out.
“If you want to say Saina is bad, then I am bad, for my parents. l this wouldn’t have happened if they (IOA) had sorted out the issue. There wouldn’t have been any controversy. My father’s name was cut after we reached here and the chef de mission had signed on the paper. I was patient and pleaded for two days. I lost my cool… how much longer would I wait? I’d made all the arrangements. I paid for his accreditation. Why make him struggle? Make me struggle… This is about respect,” she said.
Saina said she did not feel anything wrong with parents accompanying athletes during such tournaments.
“I think it’s not an issue at all. We should pay for our parents, which I totally agree. But I feel they have made us what we are. Our parents are the number one officials for us, then the others. I don’t even care who the other official is. They (parents) are the first ones who have been looking after you since childhood. I am nobody without them. They made me, so I am more than happy to fight for them. I have not done anything wrong. I have done what I had to do. I asked for what they (IOA) promised me. I didn’t do anything extra,” she added.
Saina stated that she paid the IOA Rs 74,780 on March 31 to bear the cost of her father’s accommodation inside the Village following the Sports Ministry’s refusal to pay for her father’s expense. The IOA promised her that the money would grant Harvir an all-access accreditation and a bed in the Village. However, when they landed in Australia on Monday, he wasn’t allowed any entry.
“I reached the Village at around 11 pm on April 2. At the reception, I was told my father was accredited as a personal coach and could not stay with me in the Village. I asked the chef de mission (Vikram Sisodia) the reason but he did not have the answer. He was fumbling. The list shows clearly that the name (of her father) was cut. If you see all these things, it hurts so much… I didn’t want to fight much because I knew it would get worse. The next day, he came inside the Village and was sitting in the (IOA) office till 7 or 8 in the night. I was stuck, too. I couldn’t train. Should I train or worry about these things? If they had told me before that it’s not happening, I would have done it on my own,” Saina explained.
But IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said that Saina Nehwal and her father weren’t given any assurance.
“The Au$ 1,480 does not guarantee a bed inside the Village, it only allows visiting and food expenses. We had informed all federations about this policy several times. It was their duty to inform the athletes. Plus, the organising committee decides the quota of the number of officials who can stay overnight in the Village. We followed the procedure laid down by the organisers,” he said.
Despite her troubles, Saina has got off to a decent start at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. On Thursday, Saina won her opening match easily by beating Dilrukshi Beruwelage 21-8, 21-4 in India’s 5-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka. Later on, she overpowered Pakistan’s Mahoor Shahzad 21-7, 21-11 as the Indian team registered their second 5-0 win in a row.