The ongoing spat between the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has led to the organizers of the 2016 South Asian Games (SAG), currently in progress in Guwahati and Shillong, to cancel the basketball tournament at the event. The games are being held from February 5-16 and the basketball tournament for Men and Women - involving seven countries including India - was initially scheduled to be held from February 11-16. The cancellation came soon after the international basketball federation FIBA de-recognized this event after IOA conducted trials for an Indian team without the BFI's approval.
"We tried to sort the issues out and suggested different options like going ahead with the event and give away medals without the results going into record books," Games Chief Executive Officer and Sports Authority of India Director General Injeti Srinivas told reporters, "But there was no response from some quarter. So we have decided not to go ahead with basketball. It will not be held now."
Here's a timeline of how the situation in Indian basketball spiraled down to this eventuality:
- March 27, 2015: A faction led by K Govindraj (Team Govindraj) held the BFI's Annual General Meeting in Bengaluru. Govindraj was named President and Chander Mukhi Sharma the Secretary General.
- March 28, 2015: A different faction led by Poonam Mahajan (Team Mahajan) held a different BFI Annual General Meeting in Pune. Mahajan was named President and Roopam Sharma the Secretary General. The BFI now had two opposing executive committees both vying for control of basketball in India, headed for conflict.
- May 2015: Because their faction followed directives in the BFI constitution, FIBA recognized Team Govindraj, allowing them to hold national and international basketball events.
- September 2015: But the IOA, in support of Team Mahajan, didn't consider the matter settled, and created an ad-hoc committee to oversee Indian basketball. A rift was created between India's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the BFI.
- January 2016: The IOA, in consultation with the Government of India, are behind the organizing and executive committee for the planning and management of the SAG. They organized trials for India's Men's and Women's national teams in New Delhi to send them to the SAG in Guwahati, going against the approval of BFI-Team Govindraj.
- February 2, 2016: FIBA sent a letter to all national federations in South Asia informing them that the spat had led to official FIBA non-recognition of the basketball event, and that they shouldn't send their teams to Guwahati.
- February 8, 2016: IOA sends Indian Men and Women's teams anyways.
- February 9, 2016: Due to FIBA de-recognition, SAG organisers cancelled the basketball event.
the SAG Men's basketball winners from 2010, did not send a Men's team. India finished with a silver in 2010, and it is a pity that they will not get a chance to go for the gold. Another loss is that India would've gotten a chance to rekindle their rivalry with Pakistan in a new sport, as our neighbours were supposed to be participating in both the Men's and Women's divisions. Even if the tournament had taken place, any records of performances would not have officially counted in FIBA's eyes.
Good job, old bureaucrats in suits, saris, and kurtas. Your efforts have ensured that every basketball team in Asia suffers something much worse than a loss: the finality of not being able to play at all. It's a distasteful irony: the only thing keeping basketball from developing in India are people who manage basketball and Indian sport itself.