The Director General of the Department of Sports Development of the Ministry of Sports has sought approval to send a whopping 32 Ministry officials to Kathmandu, Nepal for the South Asian Games in December, the Daily Mirror learns.
The Director General of the Department, Dhammika Mathugala, had made this request to the Sports Minister Harin Fernando in a letter dated 11 November 2019 with the Minister likely to make a decision on this on Monday.
While some of the names recommended for the trip are warranted, the list also includes several staff members of the Sports Ministry, like secretaries, treasurers and auditors.
This is in addition to officials from the National Olympic Committee, the South Asian Games Secretariat and the Department of Sports Development itself, who have been nominated to travel with the athletes to Nepal.
Mathugala, currently overseas, confirmed that such a request was made, but stated that it was necessary to send that many officials to fulfill logistical needs.
“We have assigned each Ministry official with around two sports, and tasked them with coordinating their travel and other logistical requirements at the games. Additionally, among the contingency of athletes are six students sitting for their GCE Ordinary Level Examinations and we have to have officials to coordinate that as well,” Mathugala said of the request.
Sri Lanka are aiming to send an athlete contingent of over 550 athletes, who will be accompanied by 93 coaches, 41 managers.
This number excludes the masseurs, physios, doctors, journalists and observers who will also be sent for the event, Mathugala added, indicating that the final number of Sri Lanka’s contingent for the games can only increase.
A Sports Ministry official, speaking to the Daily Mirror however questioned the necessity of sending that many officials for the games, all at the country’s expense, for what was effectively a fully-paid for “joy ride”.
“Each federation or association that is sending athletes for the games are sending their own officials to look into the needs of those athletes. So it is not necessary to send additional officials for this because it will effectively be a joy ride for some of these officials,” the official told the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror learns that a cost of approximately Rs. 500,000 will have to be incurred for each individual who travels for the games, an expense that will need to be fully borne by the country.
“The treasury has informed us that we should not spend money from the ministry for officials to make overseas tours, so we have to spend from the money allocated for sports development,” the official told the Daily Mirror.
“And since we have to fund the trip ourselves, the National Sports Council has applied a stringent selection policy for the South Asian Games so that we can keep the costs down. We have been focused on sending only athletes who have a realistic chance of competing and winning a medal. Despite this, a request has been made to send an unnecessary number of Sports Ministry officials for a 10-day trip, effectively denying opportunities for athletes,” the official said.
“This does not include the per diem that each official will be paid for the duration of the tour,” he added.