National

Athletes Asked To Vacate Stadium So That IAF Officer Could Take Stroll With His Dog

New Delhi: Sanjeev Khirwar, Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue), walks his dog in the Delhi government-run Thyagraj Stadium every evening at 7.30 p.m., which means athletes and coaches must finish training by 7 p.m.

“Previously, we used to workout under lights until 8 or 8.30 p.m. However, we are now required to vacate the grounds by 7 p.m. in order for the police to walk his dog on the grounds. The Indian Express spoke to a coach who said, “Our training and practice routine has been disturbed.”

The complex, which was built for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, attracts athletes from across the country.

While regular users of the facility have complained, Khirwar, an IAS officer from the 1994 batch, said the accusation was “completely false.” While he “sometimes” walked his dog there, he stated it did not interfere with the athletes’ practice.

Express discovered that on three recent evenings, stadium security began blowing whistles near the track at 6.30 p.m., guaranteeing that it was cleared by 7 p.m.

The stadium’s official evening timings were 4-6 p.m., however due to the heat, athletes were allowed to train until 7 p.m., according to Ajit Chaudhary, stadium administrator. He didn’t reveal the official order that specified the timing.

“By 7 p.m., we must be closed.” Government office hours can be found anywhere. This (stadium) is a Delhi government office as well. I’m not aware of anything like that (an official using the facilities to walk his dog). I leave the stadium at 7 p.m. and am completely unaware,” Chaudhary explained.

Khirwar arrived at the stadium with his dog about 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Express.

Khirwar explained: “I would never ask an athlete to leave the stadium that belongs to them. Even if I visit, I go after the stadium is supposed to close…We don’t leave him (the pet) on the track…when no one is around we leave him but never at the cost of any athlete. If it’s something objectionable, I will stop it.”

On the condition of anonymity, the athletes, parents, and coaches spoke to Express.

An athlete’s parent added about the situation: “My child’s practice is getting disrupted. Even if they say they use the facilities late at night, can you justify using a state-owned stadium to walk your dog? This is gross misuse of power.”

An athlete added: “Earlier, we continued training till 8.30 pm and sometimes even 9 pm but now we have no option. Earlier, I took water breaks once every half-hour. Now I need a drink every five minutes.”

Several of these athletes have shifted training Sports Authority of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which is 3 kms away, which allows training post 7.30 pm. “Children train here till 8.30 pm under the lights. Now, during the summer break, we run out of space in the practice area since the main stadium track is still under renovation,” explained a coach at the JLN stadium.

The inputs are taken by The Indian Express 

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