Rio de Janeiro, Aug 11 (IANS) The Olympic organising committee in Rio has threatened to cancel the accreditation of Indian Minister of State for Youth and Sports, Vijay Goel, for being “aggressive and rude” and pushing other non-accredited persons into the venue.
However, an Indian official called it a “non-issue”.
In a letter to the Indian Chef de Mission Rakesh Gupta, the Continental Manager for the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, Sarah Peterson, said that there had been multiple reports of the minister of sports trying to enter accredited areas at venues with unaccredited individuals.
The people with the minister got “aggressive and rude” with the staff when they tried to explain that this was not allowed.
Peterson said despite earlier warnings, the action was repeated on Thursday, adding that this “type of behaviour was not acceptable and the minister’s accreditation could be cancelled”.
Rakesh Gupta said that on “one occasion” after the end of the India-Japan game, the minister was invited by the team to interact with the players. He went down not knowing he needed a special pass to be in the field. “However, the moment it was brought to the notice, he left the field,” Gupta told media persons.
The Chef de Mission added that “unfortunately, a non-issue was being made an issue without reason”.
But this “one occasion” assertion is clearly not correct. Last night, Vijay Goel went into the boxing area to congratulate pugilist Manoj Kumar after his winning bout against the Lithuanian Evaldas Petrauskas in the Round of 32 of the men’s Light Welterweight category at the Riocentre Pavillion.
He pulled Manoj towards him and told a photographer with him to take pictures.
All photographers have to remain in the designated area several rows above the ground where the minister was hobnobbing with the player and boxing head coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu. The minister’s accreditation does not allow him to go in that area.
Rio Olympics staff members at the venues expressed happiness that such a warning had been given. “The men with the minister told me that if I could not allow non-accredited persons with them into the arena, why would they even want to talk to you. What use are you to us,” a staff member told IANS quoting the person accompanying the minister as saying.
At another point, the staff member said the minister asked him how he could get a non-accredited TV cameraman into the Hockey arena. “When I told him that no non-accredited person could be allowed in, the minister became unhappy asking how else he could get the cameraperson in.”
The staff member told him that in any case non-rights holder TV camerapersons cannot shoot in any of the arena but they kept on trying.
The only TV crew which can shoot anywhere on the Olympic premises have to be the rights holders. Star TV is among the rights holders here.
(Hardev Sanotra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)