Olympic crackdown on India over visa snub to Pakistani shooters
The International Olympic Committee has decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian Olympic Association on hosting sporting events after two Pakistani shooters were denied visas to compete in the ongoing World Cup in New Delhi after the Pulwama terror attack.
The committee has said the action can be avoided only if the Indian government submits a written guarantee on following the rules of the Olympic Charter that says no athlete can be denied visa by the host nation on political grounds.
The backlash has come at a time a debate is raging whether India should play against Pakistan in the upcoming cricket World Cup.
The Olympic Committee has advised all international sports federations not to award or hold events in India until the guarantees are obtained.
Several international events expected to be held in India in the near future could be in jeopardy unless a solution is found swiftly. Prominent among them are the 2020 Fifa Women’s U-17 World Cup and the 2022 Women’s Hockey World Cup.
India’s plans to bid for the hosting rights of the 2026 Youth Olympics and the 2032 Olympic Games could also come under the scanner.
The International Olympic Committee acted on a complaint from the Pakistan Olympic Association and an unfavourable report submitted by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).
The only silver lining was that the Olympic Committee stopped short of scrapping all 16 Olympic quota places available in the ongoing World Cup at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in the capital. Instead, it revoked two quota places in the rapid-fire pistol events in which the Pakistan shooters were supposed to participate.
India’s Olympic Committee member Raja Randhir Singh, who was in China, spoke to officials requesting them not to render the World Cup shooting into a meaningless affair. “Whatever is the case, the government will have to submit a guarantee now. There is no other way,” said Randhir.
“It’s a big setback for sports in the country,” Indian Olympic Association secretary-general Rajeev Mehta said. “We’ve been in constant touch with the government, trying to explain to them and convince them to grant visas to the Pakistani shooters.”
In a scathing statement, the International Olympic Association said: “This situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, in particular the principles of non-discrimination, as well as the IOC’s and the Olympic Movement’s position, reiterated on many occasions over the past few years, that equal treatment must be guaranteed for all participating athletes and sporting delegations at international sports events, without any form of discrimination or political interference from the host country.”