The decision of the Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) to drastically trim the number of disciplines from the Asian Games squad has garnered mixed reactions from national federations' high-ups, with most of them seeing it as an crippling decision as they feel it is not the lack of effort or quality of the athletes, rather the poor infrastructure and training facilities which is to blame for the poor performance of athletes in international events.
The BOA on Wednesday chopped down nine disciplines -- athletics, boxing, swimming, table tennis, wrestling, gymnastics and weightlifting -- from the Asian Games squad, after analysing poor performance of the Bangladesh squad in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.
The BOA also warned that the disciplines to be participated in by Bangladesh athletes in the Asian Games in Korea in September -- shooting, cricket, football, hockey, kabaddi, karate, ushu, taekwondo, shooting, archery, beach volleyball, fencing and golf -- would face same consequences if they fail to produce good result in the Games.
The decision has, for the time being, closed the door on many athletes from taking part in multinational sporting events, and the onus is now on those respective federations to earn back their rights by increasing the standard of their athletes. But the question is whether the federations capable of increasing the facilities for the athletes?
Most of the high-ups of the federations think they can do little to improve the facilities without help from the BOA and the government.
“It is not possible to provide modern facilities to swimmers on our own,” feels Bangladesh Swimming Federation's general secretary Rafiz Uddin. “We can only provide with local coaches and a pool which are not good enough to improve the standard of the swimmers. We can't do much without the help of the BOA and the government.”
Bangladesh Badminton Federation's general secretary Jobaidur Rahman Rana criticised BOA's decision and labelled the decision-makers as 'non-technical personnel'.
“We will not be able to meet the BOA conditions in terms of medals even in the next 50 years because we don't have good enough infrastructure. The floor of the gymnasium where our players practice is a damaged one. How will the shuttlers produce good results in international events without a good practice venue and training facilities?” asked Rana.
Mohiuddin Ahmed, general secretary of Bangladesh Weightlifting Federation, feels that the performance of the weightlifters have improved in the last few decades, even though the improvement has been somewhat stifled by the obsolescence of gymnasium and equipment.
“Notwithstanding the improvement the weightlifters made, it is difficult for us to increase the facilities without proper assistance from the government and the BOA,” said Mohiuddin.
However, some Federation chiefs saw this decision as a wake-up call and a positive one for the organisers.
“I am taking this decision as a message,” said Bangladesh Boxing Federation general secretary MA Kuddus Khan. “It is federation's responsibility to ensure long-term training with proper facilities. If we can ensure that, it is possible to win medals at international events, which our boxers proved during the South Asian Games in 2010.”