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Enraged HI urges IOA to pull team out of CWG

New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) on Saturday urged the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to withdraw the team from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after one of its shortlisted players were denied visa by the UK Home Office after background checks.

The player in question, Harbir Singh Sandhu, is a defender who has a good chance of making the final squad especially after he recovered from an injury. The 30-year-old Amritsar boy had represented India on several occasions in the past few years. The Glasgow Games will be held from July 23 to August 3.

In a letter to IOA, Rob Vergouw, the Glasgow Games relationship manager, said: “ Unfortunately Mr. Harbir Sandhu will not be able to be accredited for the Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow due to reason more substantial than lack of appropriate identification.”

A senior IOA official said he was aware that Sandhu had been denied visa by the Glasgow organisers but could not explain the reasons behind the decision.

“It is too early to say whether the team would be withdrawn. That’s an extreme step and it should be taken only after weighing all the pros and cons. But the IOA would definitely take up the matter with the organisers,” he said.

HI, however, was upset with the development and said the denial of visa to Sandhu “was an insult for a budding Indian athlete and should not be quietly accepted as a routine matter.”

In a letter to IOA president N. Ramachandran and secretary general Rajiv Mehta, HI secretary Narender Batra said: “One of our shortlisted athletes for CWG in Glasgow has been denied visa. No reason is being given. He is a young budding athlete and a bright prospect.”