India wants British government intervention to restore shooting in Birmingham

FILE PHOTO: India's junior home minister Kiren Rijiju pauses during an interview with Reuters inside his office in New Delhi, India, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India continues its relentless bid to get shooting back in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the country's sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking intervention of the British government for the event's restoration.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has already threatened to boycott the Games over exclusion of the discipline which supplied 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year's event at Gold Coast when they finished third in the medals table.

In the absence of shooting, which is an optional sport for host cities, India could slip to anywhere between fifth and eighth place in 2022, according to IOA estimates.

"I am writing this letter to seek your personal intervention to get the sport of shooting included in the Commonwealth Games ..." Rijiju wrote in a letter to Nicky Morgan, the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"It seems the decision to exclude shooting is based on the premise that shooting had never been a compulsory sport and there is no venue available for holding shooting events."

Shooting federations, including the sport's global governing body, wanted four disciplines in a single Bisley-based venue in Surrey and turned down the offer to have fewer disciplines in one Birmingham venue.

Rijiju said the exclusion of shooting, which has featured at every Games since 1966, with the exception of Edinburgh in 1970, has left many "agitated".

He also took the occasion to remind what the absence of the world's second most populous nation would mean for the Games.

"... the Commonwealth of Nations comprises of 53 nations with a population of 2.4 billion. India alone has more than half of this," the minister wrote.

"India has always been a strong votary and supporter of Commonwealth and would continue to do so. The Indian public takes keen interest in shooting," he added, pointing out that the international shooting federation had offered to share the cost of the sport's inclusion.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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