Hoopsters get walkoverAdding more salt to the wound caused by disappointing performances in the 17th Asian Games, two Nepali wushu players went missing here on Thursday in Incheon.
The act from the wushu players, who were schedule to return home on Thursday, is the second such incident in two days after a Sepak Takraw player Aman Pode also went missing on Wednesday.
Sombir Tamang and Nirajan Ale Magar have added to the list of fugitives bringing shame to the country. Report of the missing Nepalese players was carried out by the local televisions and other news media here. South Korean police and the Games organising committee are looking for their whereabouts.
In the competition itself, the dismal performance from the Games’ sixth biggest contingent continued with swimmers, shuttlers, tennis players and golfers giving a poor show. In the women’s basketball, Nepal earned a bye from Qatari team, who opted against competing in protest over hijab ban.
While none of the players and officials appeared to have been aware of Pode’s intention of hiding in Korea, it looks like the wushu team manager Chandra Tamang knew about Tamang and Ale Magar’s plan.
After both of the players were absent at a farewell programme, Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) officials interrogated manager Tamang who revealed that Sombir had already left on Tuesday and Ale Magar on Wednesday. Ale Magar is a thaulo player who represents Nepal APF Club in the domestic events, while a resident of Sindhupalchowk, Sombir, competes in sansau below-65kg event.
Nepal’s Chef-de-Mission Chhimmi Urgen Gurung said the players have defamed the country. “There seems to be lapses from the officials of concerned discipline. It seems the officials themselves are helping the players to escape,” said Gurung.
Nepal’s Ambassador to South Korea, Kaman Singh Lama, said: “The Nepali delegation in South Korea have failed to coordinate with Embassy here resulting to incident like this. This has really put us in difficult diplomatic position. The Korean TVs are repeatedly reporting about the incident. This is also a big humiliation for the Nepali community and the workers here.”
National Sports Council vice-president and NOC Joint General Secretary Lama Tendi Sherpa was sarcastic of the incident. “Such incidents are not new for Nepal. This began from the 2002 Busan Asian Games,” said Sherpa referring to the escape of three wushu players then. “This is a serious problem. The government and NOC has to take extra measures to curb it. The NOC doesn’t have a back-up plan to prevent it. The best we can do is to request players not to commit such mistakes,” added Sherpa.
Women hoopsters were the only Nepali athletes to have smiles on their faces after they scripted three points in basketball following the withdrawal from Qatar. While football, handball and martial arts have allowed the Muslim women to compete with hijab—an Islamic headscarf—the Federation of International Basketball Association is yet to lift the ban.
The Qatari women were asked to take off their headscarf before their game against Mongolia but in protest they decided to opt out. Nepal, who began the event with a 106-35 loss to Tajikistan, will meet Hong Kong and Mongolia in other league matches.
In swimming, Sonira Bista crashed out of the heats but bettered her timing of 41.28 seconds in the 50m breaststroke by clocking 40.71. Multiple national record holder Sirish Gurung failed to better his timing in 100m freestyle and was eliminated from the heats along with teammate Miraj Prajapati.
In the mixed doubles badminton, the duo of Bikash Shrestha and Nangsal Devi Tamang lost to Indonesian pair 4-21, 9-21, while Sara Devi Tamang and Ratnajit Tamang lost 11-21, 10-21 to Hong Kong shuttlers. Shrestha also lost his singles match 10-21, 17-21 to Japan’s Kenichi Tago.
The Nepali tennis teams also lost the mixed doubles and men’s doubles match in straight sets.