Bhopal/New Delhi: Legendary athlete PT Usha was reduced to tears on Tuesday after she was badly treated over accommodation for her during the 49th National Open Athletics Championships in Bhopal and a blame game has started on who is responsible for it.
Usha, who came with her wards for the Championships, was so shocked with the sub-standard accommodation offered to her at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel that the 'Sprint Queen' could not hold back tears.
"I felt insulted," she sobbed, criticising the SAI officials for their apathy.
A red-faced state government subsequently shifted her to a posh hotel and now a blame game has started on who is to be blamed for the fiasco.
Sports Minister MS Gill said he was surprised as Usha blamed SAI for the episode even though the event was hosted by the state government.
"I have a special place for PT Usha. What I learn now is that she has come for the national athletics organised by the state government and their minister came on TV to apologise. If there was any drawback, it was on their part for whatever happened last night," Gill told reporters in Delhi.
"The SAI centre, in any case, offered her accommodation, the best they had to offer, and gave a car to transport her. I'm not clear why she had to suddenly talk of the SAI centre," he said.
"The Industry Minister of the state government took her to a hotel and said some mistakes had happened. They were good to apologise. It was surprising that SAI was dragged in the issue," the Minister added.
Madhya Pradesh Sports Minister Tukoji Rao Pawar regretted the incident and placed the blame at SAI's door. "Since SAI was supposed to make all arrangements for her visit and there was no information to the state government about her programme, an unfortunate incident took place which is very saddening," Pawar said.
"Had she or SAI informed us in advance I would have accorded her State Guest's status in accordance with her stature by requesting Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan," he said.
Pawar said Usha was not happy with her accommodation. "This morning I spoke to her and she said she is comfortable now," he said.
The sports fraternity, meanwhile, reacted with anger, demanding a probe into the episode.
"It is a very sad incident. Not only me, the entire country felt sad when they saw PT Usha crying on TV. An inquiry should immediately be ordered into the incident," legendary athlete Milkha Singh said.
Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra said it was not how a national athlete should be treated.
"Sensitivity must be shown to athletes and former athletes who have put in lifetime of efforts to bring glory to the country. All they work for is little recognition and respect," said the Beijing Olympic gold medallist shooter.
Another Olympic medallist Vijender Singh said all the athletes should come together and condemn it, for it may happen to others as well.
"I think all the young sportspersons should stand up together and protest against it because today it happened with PT Usha, tomorrow it can happen with us," the boxer said.