An Indian lawn bowls team was denied visa to come here on a training trip as immigrations officials were not convinced about the players’ financial capacity to support their stay in the country.

The 16 players and a trainer were supposed to land here today after being invited to play at St. Johns Park Bowling Club in western Sydney as part of a training programme for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi this October.

But immigration officials in Delhi were not convinced about the team’s financial capacity to pay for the stay.

“Consideration was given to each applicant’s reasons for visiting Australia, their financial capacity and their incentives to return to their home country,” an immigration spokesman was quoted as saying by ‘The Age’

“If applicants have insufficient funds to support their stay or a determination is made there are insufficient incentives for an applicant’s return home, the visa application is refused,” he said.

“People from all countries have the same right and opportunity to enter our country,” he added.

The Indian team’s coach, Australian Richard Gale, however, insisted that the expenditure was to be taken care of by the Indian government.

“Most of India’s best sportspersons come from extremely poor backgrounds. As usual, (you) just stand on them and push their faces into the dirt again,” he said.

“This is the ultimate case of Indian-bashing by government officials ... To improve, you have to play the best players in the world and that’s Australia,” he added.

The manager of the club which invited the Indians, Paul Girdler, said, “Four times they’ve changed their date. They were going to be here for a month, playing every day against the district zone, the state and even the Australian selection.”

“They are a new lawn bowling country. India is an untapped area in the game,” he explained.

Australia’s bowls team was one of the eight nations that competed in a tournament in Delhi earlier this year and both Girdler and Gale felt the gesture should have been reciprocated Down Under.

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