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Funds delay threatens to knock out tournament

POOR financial planning and governmental red tape is casting a shadow over an international boxing competition in India, and stoking fears about the nation's ability to stage the Commonwealth Games next year.

The nine-nation event due to take place from March 11-15 in the northern city of Chandigarh is in trouble as government funds have not been released, domestic media reported yesterday.

Boxers from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Turkmenistan and Singapore and home teams are due to take part, but local organizers have been unable to even book hotel rooms.

A senior Indian Boxing Federation official said the sports ministry had yet to hand over around US$28,000, the Times of India reported.

"If such a small-scale tournament can't be arranged properly, I don't know what's going to happen during the Commonwealth (Games)," IBF secretary Muralidharan Raja told the paper, referring to the Games planned in New Delhi in October 2010. "The moment a boxer wins in his category we have to hand over the money to them in cash immediately."

A sports ministry official countered by saying the money would be released soon.

"The file is with the finance department and it's going to be approved in a couple of days' time," Rahul Bhatnagar said.

"This is not the first time we are dealing with the IBF and they know that even if we don't give them the money right now, we shall reimburse."

Indian boxing has been on a high since Vijender Kumar won a bronze medal at last year's Beijing Olympics, while two of his teammates reached the quarterfinals.


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