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Kerala minister finally gets nod for Olympics visit


Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar, who was denied permission to attend the Beijing Olympics, was Friday evening given the go-ahead after the state government sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But his visit is bound by certain conditions.

The letter from the external affairs ministry has arrived but it has strings attached, G. Sasidharan Nair, private secretary to the minister, told IANS.

“It (the letter) says that the minister can now reach Beijing only after Aug 10 and he has to make his own arrangements for stay and travel to various locations where the event will take place. So, a final decision on whether he would go or not will be taken in the coming days,” said Nair.

Nair had earlier said that the state cabinet discussed this matter at its meeting Wednesday and a letter to this effect was sent to the prime minister and to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, expressing concern about the minister being denied permission.

The minister was keen to attend the mega sporting event in Beijing as five athletes from Kerala are taking part.

“The presence of the minister will certainly boost the confidence of the athletes. Moreover, with Kerala aiming for lot of infrastructure developments in sports and games, attending the Olympics will give a lot of insights,” Nair said.

Minister Vijayakumar also said that not granting him permission was unjustifiable.

“No reason has been given for denying me permission and the central government’s stand was not right,” he told reporters here.

Vijayakumar received the letter, declining his request to go to Beijing Aug 5 that was signed by a deputy secretary of the external affairs ministry. It said that the matter had been carefully examined and the competent authority felt that permission need not be given.

Nair added that while the minister’s request was turned down, Kerala Assembly speaker K. Radhakrishnan got the go-ahead to attend the Games.