Pak athletes denied visa, IOC suspends talks with India

Pak athletes denied visa, IOC suspends talks with India

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with Indian NOC and government on hosting of future events while taking an unprecedented decision of revoking the Olympic quota places only in the men’s 25 m rapid fire pistol event over the denial of entry visa to Pakistani shooters for the Shooting World Cup, beginning Saturday.

The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) president Vladimir Lisin, during the opening ceremony on Thursday, had sent shockwaves among the shooters by announcing all 16 Olympic quota places from the World Cup have been withdrawn.

However, IOC, keeping in mind the interest of shooters from 61 countries, decided to restrict the suspension to two quota places in the men’s 25 m rapid fire event- the event of two Pakistani shooters. The National Rifle Association of Pakistan had requested for the same during its communication to the ISSF after its three-member delegation was denied visa in the aftermath of terrorist attack on Pulwama, Kashmir last week.

In a communication dispatched early Friday morning, IOC recommended all international federations to not entertain any potential applications for hosting future Olympic related sports events in India until a written guarantee is issued from the Indian government ensuring entry of all participants.

“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,” IOC said in a statement dispatched on wee hours of Friday morning.

“As a result, the IOC Executive Board also decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter – and to recommend that the IFs neither award to nor hold sports events in India until the above-mentioned guarantees are obtained."

This was the second time in five months a country could not participate in an international event hosted by India owing to diplomatic reason. On November last, a Kosovo boxer, Donjeta Sadiku, was denied visa to participate in the Women’s World Championships here since Indian government does not recognize Kosovo, a disputed territory in South Eastern Europe.  It had drawn a rebuke and a warning from the IOC.

India would consider itself lucky that IOC retained 14 quota places in the season opening World Cup. In 2015, Kuwait was to host the Asian Championships but the event lost its  Olympic qualification status after Israel's Yair Davidovitz, an ISSF technical delegate, was denied the visa for the event. The qualifiers were subsequently moved to New Delhi.

IOC, in its statement, said they were intimated about the situation on February 18 but all attempts to ensure the entry of Pakistani shooters failed.
“The IOC restricted the withdrawal of recognition as an Olympic qualification event to the 25m rapid fire pistol competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events who are already in India for their competition,” the statement read

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF and the Indian NOC, and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete.” 

National Rifle association of India (NRAI) welcomed the IOC decision. “With regards to the future, the NRAI is committed to working with the ISSF, IOA, and the Ministry of sports to ultimately addressing the future consequences of this most peculiar and unprecedented scenario brought on by reasons beyond the regular control of the NRAI and the ISSF. Both the ISSF and the NRAI shall gracefully comply with the IOC’s findings and hope in a large measure to address the other points raised by the IOC,” NRAI said in a statement.