The bureaucratic red tape in the country’s sports regulatory body National Sports Council is delaying the renovation of the Bangabandhu National Stadium, hitting athletics hard, alleged the Bangladesh Athletics Federation.
The Federation had been using the country’s multipurpose sports venue as their home venue for over a decade but was hesitating to use it in the recent months due to the poor condition of its track.
A result, the federation made a prompt move to host the 43rd edition National Athletic Championships outside Dhaka for the first time in 14 years as it decided to hold the upcoming national championship in Chattogram from January 16 to 18.
‘We would not be able to host any national and international event here unless a new track was installed, even if we get monetary support. We need high-quality track and field before arranging any event,’ said BAF secretary Abdur Rakib Montu.
The government allotted around Tk 100 crore for the renovation of the national venue but the NSC said it still could not select the consultant firm.
The NSC is the responsible body to maintain the 25,000-capacity venue, which was last renovated in 2011 prior to the World Cup cricket when it hosted the opening ceremony.
The budget was placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in 2018 and was approved in 2019-2020 fiscal year, confirmed the NSC’s Planning and Development section’s additional director Sukumar Shaha.
Montu sought assurance for six kinds of logistic support from the NSC to host national and international events at BNS, which often remained busy with holding football and other state functions.
‘We need World Athletics Federation-approved turf, electronic timer/photo finishing machine, gymnasium, warm-up zone, pistol and hostel to hosts national and international events here,’ said Montu.
Montu informed that until they are getting these facilities, it would be impossible for them to host the Bangabandhu SAFF Junior [Under-20] Athletics Championship – a proposed event by the federation in November to mark the birth centenary of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He claimed that the bad condition of the venue and lack of other logistic supports are hampering country’s athletes’ proper nursing as well, as there is no other alternative venue available for them.
‘If we arrange competitions here now, our athletes will certainly be injured. We actually don’t know how we would arrange international competitions here this year,’ he added.
Montu informed that the federation made several moves, including written pleas for a positive response from the NSC authorities and was left only with verbal assurance, though there are specific budget allocations for their required installations.
NSC secretary Masood Karim confirmed the budget allocation of about 100 crores and said that they would do the renovation works in phases after hiring a consultant firm.
‘We have a budget of around Tk100 crores and an order about the renovation. We will do it in phase-by-phase. Hiring a consulting firm is now under process. Hope we will complete the consultant hiring process within a week or 10 days,’ he said.
‘I hope we will be able to overcome the problems with the coordination of federations. We know we have to do it fast due to the different events of Mujib Borsho [Mujib Year]. We are trying our best,’ he added.
The secretary informed that NSC will chalk-out the priorities before taking any final decision as different federations sought different facilities.
‘We will scrutinise all the requirements from different federations. We will try our best to provide all cooperation to the federations,’ he said.
Bangladesh could win just win one silver and one bronze from athletics in the recent South Asia Games in Kathmandu – their worst showing from the regional meet.
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