By Pramod G
IMPHAL, Sep 23: The International Permit Meet which was held at New Delhi during the year 1995 was packed with international athletic stars as many of the international sports superstars wanted to visit India and took part in competitions held in the country.
However, after 15 years of the successful Indian Permit Meet, many of the international sportsperson are now reluctant to visit India and participate in the forthcoming Commonwealth games to be held at New Delhi from October 2, 2010.
Many of the big names in various disciplines of sports have decided not to participate in the upcoming Commonwealth Games citing security reasons. Collapse of the footbridge at the main venue Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and poor finishing of the Games Village have prompted many of the athletes to skip the games.
During the Indian Permit Meet, the then world record holder in 100 sprint Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis who won silver medal in the Seoul Olympic agreed to came to India and participate in the Indian Permit Meet.
The Indian Olympic Association and All India Athletic Federation invited both Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis to take part in the international athletic meet to be held in India. However, Ben Johnson could not participate in the Indian Permit Meet because of the ban imposed on him for using a banned substance.
Carl Lewis did came to India and took part in the athletic meet.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pradip Phanjoubam, editor IFP, was with the Times of India during the time and he was selected by the organizing committee of the Indian Permit Meet as a Liason officer.
Being a Liason Officer of the international athletic meet, it was no an easy task for Pradip as he had to made contacts with many of the international sports stars and confirm about their participation in the athletics meet.
Many of the international athletic stars including Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis etc. confirmed for participation in the athletic meet.
However, due to the doping scandal which came up during the time, many of the athletes cancelled their participation in the meet and the most disappointing one was the absence of Ben Johnson in the meet.
Being a Liason Officer, Pradip Phanjoubam guided Carl Lewis to the venue of the training session.
As they were travelling in the congested New Delhi street, a street child hawker happened to be at a traffic stoppage holding a bundle of newspaper featuring Carl Lewis on the front page and insisting people to purchase the newspaper.
Seeing the newspaper featuring his photograph on the front page, Carl Lewis decided to purchase a copy of the newspaper. In doing so, Carl Lewis gave a 100 US Dollar note to the child hawker. The hawker declined to receive 100 US Dollar note saying it was not valid in India and instead demanded Indian currency.
As cost of the newspaper was Rs 2 per copy and Pradip Phanjoubam gave a 100 rupees note to the hawker as neither he nor Carl Lewis possesed Indian currency of smaller denominations. The hawker had to return Rs 98 to Pradip and when the latter asked the hawker for the change, Carl Lewis insisted not to ask for the change as the matter could be sorted out later between them.
During the time, many of the international sports stars wanted to visit India even for mere stopover in India during their journey from Seoul to their home country or vice-versa.
Even Ben Johnson, who was banned from participating in international athletic meet, was in India during the time though he did not participate in the Indian Permit Meet.
By Pramod G