Sad that accomplishments of athletes with intellectual disabilities often forgotten: HC

While recognising the “incredible accomplishments” of Indian athletes in this year’s Special Olympics World Games, the Delhi High Court has lamented that players with intellectual disabilities as well as the efforts of sports bodies like Special Olympics Bharat (SOB) are often forgotten.

“While the respect and appreciation accorded to Olympic medallists is abundant and deservedly so, the accomplishments of athletes with intellectual disabilities and the efforts of bodies like SOB that dedicatedly work towards their goals are sadly, often forgotten,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma in an order released on Thursday.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, noted in the Special Olympics World Games held in Berlin this year, the Indian contingent finished their campaign with 200 medals, which included 77 gold, 71 silver and 52 bronze medals.

The court said the SOB must continue to ensure strict compliance with the National Sports Development Code for all upcoming elections of office-bearers at the national and state level, and for the selection of sportspersons and national coaches for the approaching Special Olympic World Games, 2025.

The court made the observations while dealing with a public interest litigation alleging irregularities in the functioning of the SOB which is responsible for selecting and providing appropriate training to sportspersons with intellectual disabilities for Special Olympic World Games.

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The plea, filed in 2019, raised issues of alleged irregularities and favouritism in the selection of sportspersons for Special Olympics World Games as well as appointment of office-bearers of SOB, specifically the Chairman, CEO, National Sports Director and National Coach.

The court closed the proceedings on the petition after observing that the ‘Selection Guidelines for Special Olympics Bharat, 2018’ for selection of players was formulated in accordance with the requirements of the Sports Code.

It said there were many “positive developments” during the pendency of the court proceedings and the issues raised by the petitioner were substantively resolved by SOB.

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