Millennium Post

Jaya cancels Asian Athletics Championships over Lanka team’s participation

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday said that her government will not host the 20th Asian Athletic Championships to be held in July this year in protest against the Sri Lankan team’s participation in the event.

‘Since the Sri Lankan government is repeatedly acting against the interests of Tamils living there, organising the event here will affect the sentiments of people in Tamil Nadu’, she said in a statement.

The move comes in the wake of an outcry against pictures released by UK’s Channel 4 showing slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s son Balachandran before and after he was shot dead, indicating cold blooded murder.

‘We will not entertain the Sri Lankan team here. We have already sent a letter to Asia Athletic Federation to convey this to Sri Lankan government. But there has been no response from them so far’, she said, adding therefore, at this juncture, the event cannot be hosted in Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalithaa also asked the federation to organise the game in some other venue. Last year in September, Jayalalithaa ordered the return of two football teams from the island nation that were to play friendly matches in Chennai.

Jayalalithaa also issued orders not to hold any football matches involving Sri Lankan players in the state. She also ordered the suspension of the stadium officer at the Nehru Stadium here for allowing the neighbouring island football team. The Tamil Nadu government had allocated Rs 40 crore for the event and work was on in full swing to host the event.

Jayalalithaa said her government had written to the Asian Athletics Association in Singapore seeking that Lankan team be desisted from participation considering the ‘sentiments’ of the people in Tamil Nadu, as the Lankan government was ‘repeatedly acting against the ethnic minorities’. The decision comes a day after Jayalalithaa slammed the Lankan government over the ‘inhuman act’ of alleged brutal killing of 12-year-old Balachandran by the Lankan army, which has also evoked a strong condemnation from various political parties in Tamil Nadu including DMK. The sporting body had been requested to intimate to the Lankan government in the appropriate way the state government decision, Jayalalithaa said.

‘It had been requested that they update us on the follow-up action with copies of the letter sent to secretaries of Union external affairs and sports ministries. But there has been no information from the Association so far’. She reiterated her charge that the killing of Balachandran was a ‘a grave war-crime which cannot be forgiven.
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