New Delhi: Top Indian shooters including Commonwealth gold medalist Gagan Narang had to spend a night in the lobby after they were denied rooms in a London hotel.
The 25-member contingent participating in the ISSF World Cup was left stranded on Saturday night, for over 8 hours as they were not given keys to their rooms as the Olympic organisers had messed up their hotel bookings. "The way they treated us was like as if it's 1940s, as if they were still ruling us. This has happened with the team even before during the shotgun World Cup, even then they treated us in a similar fashion," said Gurmeet Singh, member of the shooting contingent.
The matter was sorted when the National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) intervened. National coach Sunny Thomas had on Sunday said that the shooters - who returned home on Monday - finally found shelter after the Indian embassy booked another hotel for them.
"This was a total harrassment to our shooters and officials. We are writing to IOC, ISSF and the Organising Committee of the London Olympics so that this does not happen during the Olympics," said NRAI's Baljeet Singh Sethi.
Sethi blamed the private agency, hired by the accommodation committee of the tournament that is also a test event for the London Games, for the goof-up.
"Our booking was till April 28 but then we extended it till the next day for our pistol and rifle shooters. We paid the balance amount to the accommodation committee but the private agency did not inform the hotel authorities about the payment and to extend our stay," Sethi said.
For all the criticism that India received during the Commonwealth Games with certain teams being put up in five and seven star hotels (costs born by CWG authorities) because they were not satisfied with the arrangements in the Games village, London Olympics may have earned a rather bitter name for itself as well.
In fact this isn't a lone incident, it comes after a racism row in 2010 where Indian shooters had complained of harassment at the World Cup in Dorset. "The sad thing is that it's not the 1st time it's happened. It's the 3rd or 4th time it's happened, that too only in England. It never happens in any other country," said Deep Bhatia, an official with the team.
The ISSF World Cup which is a key event in the run-up to the London Olympics which begin from July 27.
(With PTI inputs)