Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Set To Be Center of Controversy When Arrives in Pakistan

 

Confusion is set to reign when the Queen’s Baton for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games arrives in Lahore tomorrow, with two rival bodies claiming that they should be hosting the occasion.

Two bodies in Pakistan are currently claiming that they represent the Olympic Movement in the country.

Glasgow 2014 have been dealing with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), which is run by Arif Hasan and recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

But the Government refuses to deal with the POA and instead claims that the authority rests with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), a parallel organization of which Mohammad Akram Sahi is in charge.

“The PSB wrote to the Punjab Government indicating that the IOC-recognized POA was an illegal body and that it shouldn’t be allowed to hold the Queen’s Baton Relay in Lahore,” said Hasan.

Bangladesh runners took part in the Queen's Baton Relay when it arrived in Dhaka.

“Instead, the Punjab Sports Board should take it over in order to accommodate the Government-recognized POA led by Akram Sahi.”

Hasan is still planning to meet the Baton when it is due to land in Lahore at Allama Iqbal International Airport at 8.45 a.m. tomorrow.

A plan for a special ceremony to be held at the Governor’s House in Lahore has had to be reportedly cancelled because of Hasan’s strained relationship with the Government.

Instead, a ceremony to welcome the Baton is due to be held at a local hotel, but again Hasan’s status means that it will not be attended by Punjab Governor Mohammad Sarwar.

It is an embarrassing situation for Sarwar, appointed Governor by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in August, having previously served in Britain’s Parliament representing Glasgow between 1997 and 2010 when he was the country’s first Muslim MP.

“Hasan tried to host the event at the Governor House but he failed,” an official told The Express Tribune, a major daily English-language newspaper in Pakistan.

“Initially he was allowed to host the reception at the Governor House, but when the officials learned that Hasan’s body is not recognized by the Government, they refused to permit him.”

Former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar will reportedly miss a special ceremony to welcome the Queen's Baton because the Pakistan Government does not recognise the National Olympic Committee run by Arif Hasan, who Glasgow 2014 have been dealing with.

Sahi claimed that the PSB should be the body to greet the Baton when it arrives.

“We’ll respect the decision of the Government as at the end of the day, they are the supreme body,” he said.

Since the Queen’s Baton Relay was launched by The Queen at Buckingham Palace in London last Wednesday (October 9) it has encountered several problems.

Plans for it to be paraded around the streets of New Delhi last Saturday (October 12) during the first stop on its 288-day 190,000 kilometers journey around the Commonwealth had to be scrapped because the event clashed with the Dussehra festival, a major event in the Hindu calendar.

Scottish organizers have also had to drop The Gambia from its schedule after the West African country withdrew from the Commonwealth.

Since leaving New Delhi yesterday, it has traveled to the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, where it was met at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport before being taken in a relay and arriving at the British High Commissioner’s Residence for an official reception in its honor.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.

 

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