AURANGABAD: As the four-day state-level gymnastics competition was inaugurated at the divisional sports complex here on Wednesday, participants who arrived in the city had to struggle with shoddy, unclean living conditions and lack of basic facilities.
Participants and their support staff said their accommodation quarters do not have basic necessities such as water, electricity and even beds. They also complained about the unclean bathrooms and toilets, and general unhygienic conditions.
Sports authorities, while admitting there may have been certain lapses, said they were told to host the major event only a week ago after the venue was shifted from Nagpur. The state’s national-level team for acrobatics, artistic and rhythmic categories will be decided based on the event.
Speaking about the woes of the participants, a gymnast from Kolhapur said, “We arrived at Aurangabad on Tuesday after travelling for more than 400km. We were shocked to find that there was no electricity and no water where we were staying.
Most of us could not sleep well at night and woke up only to realise there was still no water.” A coach from Vidarbha said organisers were unavailable to take note of the problems faced by the sportspersons and their support staff. “We were unable to reach the authorities despite frantic attempts to make them aware about the lack of water and the various issues we were facing.
As the clamour grew during the morning, some tankers were arranged for and water was provided in barrels in front of our living quarters. It was difficult for the participants to carry water using buckets to their rooms,” he said. The participants and their trainers collectively blamed organisers for failing to make adequate arrangements for a major state-level event. “How can participants focus amidst such a negative atmosphere? This shows apathy on the part of the government in holding gymnastic events and promoting related sports,” said a senior trainer.
When contacted, Aurangabad district sports officer Urmila Morale said senior authorities informed her office about hosting the state-level event only on October 24, giving them little time to prepare. “The gymnastics competition was shifted to Aurangabad from Nagpur since the venue there was allotted for a national-level event. Our department worked on a war footing to ensure the success of the event. We left no stone unturned to ensure proper tracks and make other sporting arrangements, but some lapses there may have been some short comings in preparing the accommodation areas,” she said.
Morale added that a leak in the overhead tank may have led to the lack of water in the participants’ accommodation quarters. Regarding the unavailability of electricity, she said orders had been issued to install tubelights and bulbs in all the rooms. “We could not arrange for separate beds for the participants since the government provides organisers with Rs 150 per participant per day towards all arrangements. This also includes the cost of food twice a day,” she said.
Deputy director of sports R D Mahadawed, meanwhile, claimed that the gymnastics competition began on smooth note, and that accommodation related issues, if any, would be sorted out. “Unavailability of sufficient time could have led to some incomplete arrangements, but the event has started on satisfactory level. We will make necessary corrections based on the feedback from participants,” he said.
Authorities from the state sports department could not be reached for comments on why the venue for the competition was changed at the last minute.