Empty Delhi Stadium, Athletes Sent Home Early So IAS Officer Can Walk His Dog: Report

New Delhi: Athletes and coaches at the Delhi government-run Thyagraj Stadium have complained about disruption in training because the stadium needs to be emptied to make way for Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar to walk his dog, reported the Indian Express.

Athletes and coaches are unhappy about being forced to wrap training by 7 pm, which is earlier than usual. They complained that Khirwar walks his dog at the facility about half-an-hour later, said the report.

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One of the coaches at the facility quoted in the report blamed the IAS officer saying, “We used to train till 8-8.30 pm under lights earlier. But now, we are asked to leave the ground by 7 pm so that the officer can walk his dog on the ground. Our training and practice routine has been disrupted.”

However, Khirwar dismissed the allegation as “absolutely incorrect”.  Although he accepted that he takes his pet for a walk at the facility “sometimes”, the IAS officer outrightly rejected the claims that it disrupted the practice routine of athletes.

Clarifying his position, Khirwar added that he 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,” he was quoted in the report.

On its part, The Indian Express also went to visit the stadium thrice during the evenings in the last one week. In its investigation, they found guards blowing whistles and ensuring that the arena was cleared by 7 pm.

The report quoted stadium administrator Ajit Chaudhary saying that the official timing in the evening is 4-6 pm. However, due to heat athletes have been told to train until 7 pm. However, Chaudhary did not specify any official order about the timing. 

The 1994-batch IAS officer has now drawn criticism for interrupting the practice sessions for walking his dog after the report went viral.

Congress leader Manish Tewari took note of the report and expressed his concern about conditions of other districts across the country. Tewari tweeted, “If this is what goes on in Delhi imagine what it must be like in the districts where the DC & SSP believe they are lords and masters of all they survey.”   

General Secretary of the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) also took a jibe at the IAS officer saying, “When a Dog is more privileged than athletes.”  

Meanwhile Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Thursday directed that all Delhi Govt sports facilities will stay open for sportspersons till 10 pm, according to the news agency ANI.

The multi-discipline sporting facility was constructed for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The stadium attracts national and state athletes, and footballers. 

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