Mangaluru, Apr 12, 2018: The manner in which the four-day 38th National Masters’ Athletics Championship will unfold at Mangala Stadium today April 12, Thursday is low key.
Thanks to the model code of conduct (MCC), organizers of the event have been forced to dispense with traditional march-past prior to the inaugural function, which will be a strictly ‘officials’ only affair. A procession will now be taken up from adjacent warm up track at Mangala grounds, to the stadium.
What makes the situation ironic is that India Masters Athletics, the national body that governs masters’-level athletics, had initially requested Gujarat to host the event. With Gujarat backing out from doing so in view of assembly elections there, IMA urged Karnataka to do so, that incidentally had hosted the 34th edition in this coastal city. Amidst ongoing preparations to host the event, the organizers were confronted with elections announced in Karnataka as well.
K Thejomaya, chairman of organizing committee, said that police denied permission to take out a procession, initially planned from Sri Kshetra Kudroli up to Mangala Stadium. “We shared their apprehension, that even if one miscreant entered the procession and shouted a slogan hailing any political party or leader, we (the organizers) will be held guilty of violating the model code of conduct,” he said, adding the organizers wanted the event to be apolitical.
Noting that athletes who came down for the event four years ago were all praise for the hospitality extended to them, Thejomaya said it will be a low-key affair this year. “We received permission to provide food to athletes–nearly 1,600 of them are coming from 18 states, and even from Sri Lanka, on Monday,” he said, adding the code also barred organizers from approaching muzrai temples that helped with the food bill last time, with their generous contribution.
The only saving grace, Thejomaya said, is the timely financial clearance of Rs 15 lakh given by the state government towards meeting organizational expenses of the meet. “Our estimated expenditure is Rs 38 lakh. The government grant, which we expect after the code of conduct ends, will help in meeting expenses.” “In the interim, philanthropists have come forward to help organizers meet expenses and help the city live up to its reputation of being model hosts,” he added.