Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said he will take action against the Sports Officers who protested unfairly in an attempt to sabotage the closing ceremony of the National Sports Festival 2017 that concluded at Matara yesterday.
Sports Minister has already advised the Ministry Secretary to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
The incident occurred when Asian Championship Silver medallist Sprinter Rumeshika Rathnayake was granted special permission to run in the finals of the 100m on Sunday without participating in the heats. Rumeshika had been sent to Japan by the Sports Ministry to follow a training course and had sought permission to come for the NSF on time, which was approved by the Minister.
Unfortunately, as the Press Release from the Ministry explained, a mistake made by the Director General of Sports at the Department of Sports Development, Saman Bandara, had resulted in Rumeshika arriving late to the country with Nimali Liyanarachchi on Saturday evening, after the heats of the 100m had been held.
Minister of Sports at Sabaragamuwa Province Athula Kumara Rahubadda had requested the organizers to allow Rumeshika to run in the 100m final, which was directed to the Committee comprising of Athletics Association’s Technical Director A.T. Nugegoda and Senior Technical Officers Lal Chandrakumara and Palitha Jayathilaka, who had decided to allow her to run the finals in lane 9. There were no semi-finals as only three heats were worked off.
Rumeshika ran an amazing race clocking 11.74 seconds in to a -3.0 headwind, although it was less than 24 hours since she landed from Japan and straightaway going to Matara from the Airport. None of the other competitors were able to run under 12 seconds in the race which saw Lakshika Sugandhi from Western Province finishing second. Central Province and Uva Province were against the decision to let Rumeshika run and had organized the protest, which was highlighted as a failed attempt to sabotage the event.Meanwhile, there were some officials from the Department of Sports Development who skipped the closing ceremony due to issues with top officials in their Department.
Minister Jayasekara is not happy with what took place as it’s not the first time that incompetent high ranking officials in the Ministry as well as Department of Sports Development have bungled. Most of their work when it comes to recent championship from organizing to air ticket booking raised many issues.
At present Secretary of the Sports Ministry Dr. D.M.R.B. Dissanayaka and D.G. Saman Bandara have left the country to Turkmenistan for the closing ceremony of the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship.
There have been several issues raised, especially when it comes to recent activities of the Department of Sports Development and organizing of the National Sports Festival. There were many issues from accommodation, food and even scheduling of the events, where top athletes who won medals at the Asian Indoor Championship, had to go through hell to get to the NSF on time. Poor accommodation had been provided to many officials, including media, and had to be changed after the first day.
Prize money too at the NSF was reduced and athletes were not happy about this.
Meanwhile Rumeshika too wasn’t happy about not getting a chance to compete in 200m and 4x100m where she could have added two more Gold medals to the Province easily.
National athletes argued that none of the sports officers raised their voices when they did not have a place to train or for any of their problems which they faced during the NSF. It is strange to see them protesting against Rumeshika when the athlete who placed second Lakshika Sugandhi, who would have won the Gold if not for Rumeshika, had no problem of Rumeshika running, but rather welcomed the opportunity to compete against her.