Sports News

Controversy behind air tickets delay for athletes flying for World Junior’s 

By Indrajith Subasinghe 

Several allegations have arisen regarding Sri Lanka’s delayed participation in the World Junior Athletics Championship, which began yesterday (1) in Colombia. 

The Minister of Sports failed to provide air tickets for seven athletes who qualified for the Junior Athletic Championship 2022 in Columbia. Despite the athletes qualifying for the championship months ago, the athletes were made to stay overnight at the Athletic Association at Independence Avenue before the player tickets were issued late on Sunday night (31 July). 

According to the price quoted by the Sports Ministry, the cost of one ticket was around Rs. 1.6 million, but in this regard, the players had informed Sports Ministry officials that a ticket could be provided for the same destination at a lower price of around Rs. 1.2 million. The interest of the ministry officials to buy the tickets had reportedly disappeared after this revelation.

According to trustworthy sources, these officials may have intended to make an unfair profit through the ticket sales, and they further alleged that since the players came up with tickets at lower rates, the officials of the Sports Ministry may have purposely delayed the purchasing of tickets. 

This kind of behaviour has allegedly been reported amidst the officials of the Ministry of Sports before as well. According to a revelation made by the Aruna newspaper, Rs. 33.8 million more than the actual price was paid for the tickets to participate in the last South Asian tournament held in Nepal in 2019. The case is now under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

However, when trying to get tickets to Colombia for the World Junior Athletics Championship at the last minute, due to the lack of ordinary-class seats, business-class air tickets were procured for Rs. 2.6 million each. Also, the Minister of Sports said that action will be taken against officials who had neglected their responsibility.

Meanwhile, Tarushi Karunaratne, who missed her flight on 30 July, left on Sunday, due to which she missed her main event, the women’s 800 m, which took place yesterday (1). 

This is not the first instance of poor administrative procedure related to athletics. Ushan Thivanka, Dhanushka Sandaruwan, and Yupun Abeykoon have also complained of having faced such situations related to sports administration in the past.