Bangladesh joined India to seek the intervention of British government to get shooting back in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after Games authorities excluded the discipline from the meet.
State minister for youth and sports Zahid Ahsan Russel on this week wrote a letter to Tariq Ahmad, British minister for the Commonwealth, the UN and the South Asia, seeking his personal intervention so that shooting may be included in Commonwealth Games 2022.
‘Shooting is a popular sport in Bangladesh. Also, shooting sport has been gaining its popularity gradually over the globe. Commonwealth Games is a renowned game that should include shooting for the sake of its historical image and goodwill,’ Russel wrote in his letter.
Russel said Bangladesh is not represented in the Commonwealth Games Executive Council and in the Functional Committees of the Commonwealth Games; therefore, it could not put forward its case for continuing the inclusion of shooting in Birmingham 2022.
Russel’s plea came in little over a week after Indian sports minister Kiren Rijiju wrote a similar letter to Nicky Morgan, British secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
India has already threatened to boycott the Games over exclusion of shooting, which earned 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast.
Bangladesh won two silver medals in Gold Coast which remained as their only success in the event.
Bangladesh has won eight medals in Commonwealth Games history, which included two golds, four silvers and two bronzes – all coming from shooting.
Shooting featured at every Commonwealth Games since 1966, except Edinburgh in 1970, but the organisers dropped it this time as this is not a compulsory sport and also there is no venue available for holding shooting events in Birmingham.
Instead, this year beach volleyball, women’s cricket and para-table tennis were added for 2022 event.
Quoting a research, Bangladesh Shooting Sports Federation on Wednesday said in the absence of shooting Bangladesh would lose 100 per cent of its medals while India and Sri Lanka would lose 24 and 15 per cent of their medals respectively.
It said that the federation of other neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka found it hard to counter ‘closed mind’ that continued to refute the inclusion of shooting in the Commonwealth Games.
‘We are now trying to convince the British government through our sports ministry. If necessary we will also request the foreign ministry to take an initiative because it is certain without shooting we have to return empty-handed from Commonwealth Games,’ said Enthekhabul Hamid, secretary general of BSSF.
Hamid said International Shooting Sports Federation is also trying to convince the Commonwealth Games authorities to include the sport.
It pledged £780,000, including £40,000 to cover the cost of officials, for the development of Bisley shooting range, which is just 130km off from Birmingham. The range hosted shooting events during 2002 Manchester meet, though it was 340km away from the city.
Hamid said while the slogan of Birmingham Commonwealth is ‘The Games for Everyone’, its decision to exclude shooting will hamper the interest of 2.5 billion population of South Asian countries.
‘It’s really disappointing. But I believe they will not to drop shooting forever. If not in Birmingham, it will return in next Commonwealth Games,’ said Abdullah Hel Baki, who won at least one silver medal in the past two events.