Lack of funding and poorly-maintained dormitories bar the authorities from providing accommodation for 1,200 participating athletes.
Lack of funding and the poor state of washrooms are a challenge for the organising committee at Kanteerava Stadium as it gears up to host the 61st edition of the National Open Athletic Championship on October 15.
Babu Shetty, a member of the organising committee at Karnataka Athletic Association (KAA) said, “This meet is Open Nationals so all contingents come from the public or central government job sectors such as Railways. They will not be given lodging or boarding. Teams will make their own accommodations or arrangements,”
He said that the athletics department has lagged behind when compared to the football and basketball departments, who occupy most of the lodging space inside the Kanteerava stadium. He explained, “There is no accommodation available for the athletes because the football teams have occupied all the lodging areas. Even in the indoor stadium, 250-300 people can be accommodated, but these spaces are mostly occupied by the basketball teams.” This leaves the athletics section with space for about 200 to 300 persons.
The Open National Athletic Championships is a showpiece event hosted by the Athletic Federation of India (AFI). A total of around 1,200 athletes across 30 contingents across the country are set to participate in the competition.
Shetty added that a lack of budget from the state government has also been an issue. “They are expected to pass a budget of around Rs. 40 lakhs, but we needed something around Rs. 70 lakhs to offer optimum services to the athletes.”
Shetty’s comments come in the midst of poor infrastructure inside the Kanteerava Stadium. Even inside the pavilion stands, where the coaches and the players often reside during matches, the washrooms are not hygienic. They are dominated by stench and lack of maintenance.
Sri Aiyappa, husband and coach of former Indian heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa, says the lack of accommodation at Kanteerava is due to poor maintenance of dormitories and washrooms. He also revealed that most of the competing athletes’ accommodations will be covered by their respective teams.
“In this National Open meet, most of the teams coming here belong to the departments such as Railways. There are around 136 athletes participating from the railways alone, so they are generally accommodated by their teams. People usually avoid accommodation at Kanteerava because the dormitories are poorly maintained,” Aiyappa said.
According to the competition director Satyanarayana, Kanteerava Stadium was not even listed as the initial host for the Open National Open Athletics Championship. Earlier, It was scheduled to be hosted in Jamshedpur but was later shifted to Bengaluru by the AFI in July.
“The championship was moved to Bengaluru at the request of Karnataka Athletics Association, as this was a great opportunity to use the newly-laid synthetic track,” Satyanarayana said in a press conference.
The 2021 edition of the Open National Athletics Championship was held in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Warangal.