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Sports ministry does U-turn as yoga no longer a sport

After prime minister Narendra Modi first proposed to observe June 21 as Yoga Day in the future during his September 27, 2014 speech in the United Nations General Assembly, the sports ministry swung into action and immediately decided to included yoga in the list of sport. However, it the decision has been reversed now.

Around 14 months ago, when yoga was included as a ‘sport’ and taken away from the ‘performing art’ category, it was expected to create millions of jobs around the country. Backed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the sports ministry was even contemplating to include different age-group yoga competitions held at the future National Games apart from recognising the Yoga Federation of India soon.

But all that proved to be short-lived joy for those yoga practitioners as the sports ministry has now decided to change its decision, which means that yoga can’t be termed as a sport any more.

The decision was taken after a review meeting of the sports ministry on yoga was held earlier this month that was attended by sports minister Vijay Goel. In a communique sent to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other related departments on Wednesday, it has been said that the “de-recognition” had the approval of the sports minister and would come into force with immediate effect.

“Yoga will continue to be handled by Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy),” the letter said.

What were the reasons that such a drastic change in decision was taken in merely 15 months?

“It is the ministry’s lack of vision and its inability to hold national championships that forced it to drop yoga as a sport,” a senior source in the sports ministry said. “We failed to realise before including yoga as a sport that there was no way we could have held a national championship with so many aasnas involved.”

It has been learnt that ministry did discuss the issue with a number of yoga experts before concluding that “it would be nearly impossible to hold Nationals in yoga”.

Moreover, there were not many genuine people coming forward to form a federation and to add to that, whoever was showing interest was only looking for government funding.

Modi, on the other hand, has been leading the charge in spreading awareness on yoga for the last two years.