ISSF threatens to remove hosting rights from India

GEARING UP: Shooters practice at the Dr Karni Singh Range ahead of the World Cup. AFP

The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) said it was discussing the consequences of India as host for future international competitions in all sports after shooters from Pakistan were denied visas for participating in the World Cup here.

The international federation has even written to the Sports Ministry to grant visas to the three-member Pakistan shooting contingent.

The National Rifle Association of Pakistan's executive vice-president Javaid S Lodhi had told DH they were scheduled to fly for the World Cup on Wednesday morning but had to cancel their plans after they were not granted the Indian visa.

The relationship between the two neighbouring countries had become tense following the terrorist attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir which killed 49 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) jawans.

Taking a strong note of the situation, ISSF called it an “urgent situation” and said it was taking all steps to avoid “discrimination” against Pakistan.

“ISSF World Cup in New Delhi faces an urgent situation as Pakistani athletes cannot get entry visas to participate in the competition, due to the terrorist attacks in India,” ISSF said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The ISSF and the Organising Committee of the competition are taking all efforts to solve the situation to avoid the discrimination of the Pakistani team.

“Besides that, the ISSF and the Organising Committee are discussing the possible consequences for India as a host country for future international competitions, in all sports,” it said.

Earlier, it was learnt that ISSF had written to the Sports Ministry to grant visas to the Pakistan shooters. The ISSF secretary-general Alexander Ratner on Wednesday said Pakistan, in a letter to ISSF, had requested them to shift the quotas places in men's 25m rapid fire to some other venue. The two Pakistan shooters were supposed to participate in the men's 25m rapid fire.

“They have requested us to distribute the quotas from the next World Cup. However, it is for IOC to decide,” Ratner said at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

India would well remember the case of Kuwait which was to host the 2015 Asian Championships but lost its 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. The IOC, at that time. had stated: "The decision comes after the designated technical delegate from the ISSF, Yair Davidovich (Israel), who was due to supervise the event on behalf of the ISSF, was denied a visa by the Kuwaiti Immigration Department. The denial of a visa is against the non-discrimination principle of the Olympic Charter."

Earlier, the NRAI general-secretary D V Seetharama Rao said: “We are an obedient federation and comply with rules and regulations. We did not get any directions from Indian High Commission to not allow Pakistan shooters. If they come, they are welcome to participate. But shooting is such a technical sport with so much mental strain (in the prevailing situation)  this might cause disturbance in their mind. Their families and coaches might not allow them to come,” Rao said.

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