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Visa row: Union youth affairs and sports minister Anurag Thakur cancels visit to China for Asian Games

Minister protests Beijing’s denial of 'accreditation and entry' to three sportswomen from Arunachal Pradesh

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 23.09.23, 07:24 AM
Anurag Thakur.

Anurag Thakur. File photo

Union youth affairs and sports minister Anurag Thakur on Friday cancelled his visit to China for the Asian Games, which begin in Hangzhou on Saturday, to protest Beijing’s denial of “accreditation and entry” to three sportswomen from Arunachal Pradesh.

All three sportswomen are members of India’s team for wushu — a martial art — and were to fly out with the rest of the contingent on Wednesday for Hong Kong. Although they had received their accreditation cards from the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee, they were unable to download the travel document/ visa.


Since only the three women team members from Arunachal — which China claims as its own territory — were unable to download the document, India believes they are being discriminated against on the basis of their domicile.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India had lodged a strong protest both in Delhi and Beijing against “China's deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons”.

Calling it a “targeted and pre-meditated move”, Bagchi said: “In line with our longstanding and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India.”

“China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states,” Bagchi said.

Asked whether Beijing had any comment on the denial of visas, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said: “As the host country, China welcomes athletes from all countries to the Games using legal identification. The Chinese government has never recognised so-called Arunachal. The area of Zangnan is Chinese territory.”

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