Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid says it is the Organising Committee’s hope that it will be welcoming India to the Commonwealth Games in three years' time, despite a boycott by the country looking set to be proposed over shooting’s exclusion from the sports programme.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra has recently asked Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju for a meeting to discuss the move.
Batra also revealed some IOA members backed the stance of secretary general Rajeev Mehta to boycott the event while informal talks were held on the issue after shooting's omission from the programme was confirmed last month.
Shooting is one of India's most successful sports with 16 medals, including seven golds, going their way at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
It was not among the three optional sports recommended for inclusion at Birmingham 2022 by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Executive Board at its meeting in June, however.
Women's cricket, beach volleyball and Para-table tennis were put forward for formal approval by the CGF's 71 Member Associations following a proposal by Birmingham 2022, with shooting and archery being overlooked.
insidethegames exclusively revealed that shooting had turned down the opportunity of having a reduced programme at Birmingham 2022 because they had not been prepared to compromise on any of their four disciplines.
CGF President Dame Louise Martin claimed shooting could have been part of the programme if they had accepted a proposal of including only small bore rifle and pistol events.
Pistol and small bore rifle shooting involves competitors firing at stationary targets across distances ranging from 10 to 50 metres and Birmingham 2022 believes a temporary venue could have been built to accommodate those events.
Dame Louise told insidethegames, however, that shooting wanted the four events contested at Gold Coast 2018 – full bore, pistol, rifle and shotgun – to be part of the programme and staged at the National Shooting Centre in Bisley, 130 miles south in Surrey.
Birmingham 2022 tweeted it has issued a statement by Reid today to "clarify the facts" about why shooting has not been included.
We’re aware of news reports about why the optional sport of shooting hasn’t been included at #B2022— Birmingham 2022 (@birminghamcg22) July 30, 2019
We’ve issued a statement to clarify the facts.
We look forward to welcoming all nations and territories to Birmingham in 2022. #Birmingham2022https://t.co/9V4jGyhc9N pic.twitter.com/E2y7UfT3zW
"We want every single nation and territory eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games, including India, to be in Birmingham in 2022," the statement reads.
"They are all assured an extremely warm welcome from a city and a region that is home to 187 nations.
"It’s important to remember that shooting is not a core Commonwealth Games Federation sport, it is optional.
"In December 2017, it was not included in Birmingham’s bid to host the 2022 Games.
"In September 2018, five sports that were not included in the original bid – shooting, archery, beach volleyball, Para table tennis and cricket – expressed their desire to be part of the Games.
"So the Birmingham 2022 Board committed to conducting a review, offering each sport a chance to be included.
"The process we conducted was fair, logical and transparent and the assessment panel included senior representatives from key Games partners including Birmingham 2022, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Commonwealth Games England and Birmingham City Council.
"Key criteria were set, written submissions invited and face-to-face presentations made to the panel from each of the five sports.
"The criteria included: financial considerations, the availability of suitable venues; the potential for additional revenue streams from ticket sales and/or sponsorship; as well as alignment with the Commonwealth Games Federation Constitution and with the objectives of Games Partners.
"Shooting scored highly on some of the key criteria and the panel recognised the committed and enthusiastic submission from the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), the International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA) and British Shooting (BS).
"However, the panel determined that the proposed location for shooting at Bisley in Surrey offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands, in a Games with a significant proportion of funding coming from the region."
Reid adds: "The panel did offer the opportunity for the sport to submit an alternative Birmingham based proposal – most likely two disciplines in one Birmingham venue – but the ISSF, ICFRA and BS would not submit a proposal that did not include all four disciplines in a single Bisley-based venue.
"As a result of this review, Birmingham 2022 proposed adding three sports – women’s cricket, Para-table tennis and beach volleyball – all of which can be staged in venues in Birmingham or the West Midlands, bringing additional benefits to a region that is providing substantial funding for the Games.
"It was also felt that these three sports would bring a young and diverse audience to the Games, helping to enhance the existing programme and reach new audiences, while showcasing the sports to the local community, spectators and fans across the world, watching on TV.
"This proposal was approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Executive Board at the end of June 2019 and is now subject to a vote by the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations.
"A final decision is expected in the next couple of weeks."
Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra recently claimed India should not boycott Birmingham 2022 in protest at shooting's exclusion as it would be unfair to punish athletes in other sports.
Bindra, who won the 10 metres air rifle title at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and is a four-times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, said the IOA should instead focus its efforts on campaigning for shooting to be included at future editions of the event.
The CGF said it "absolutely" wants India to participate at Birmingham 2022 and officials from the body are set to meet their Indian counterparts in the coming months to hold talks on the possible boycott.
The IOA has boycotted the CGF General Assembly in Kigali in September as part of its protest and has withdrawn Mehta from the election for regional vice-president, however.
"We have spoken with the CGF and understand senior executives hope to meet with the Indian Olympic Association soon to discuss their concerns," the Birmingham 2022 statement concludes.
"It’s our hope that we will be welcoming India to Birmingham in 2022."