The Iranian contingent is still fuming over the late clearance of visa to its cyclists for the ongoing Hero Asian Cycling Championships as it feels the country is “losing out on qualification points” for the 2016 Rio Olympics due to the limited number of entries.
Considered an Asian powerhouse, many Iranian cyclists could not turn up for the track events of the championships that started on Thursday, due to delay in granting them visa.
“You would have seen DNS (Did Not Start) against Iran cyclists in the 4km team event as some of our riders have not been given visas. Till now we have not participated in seven races. We are losing out on Olympic points which are crucial for Rio 2016,” said Iran’s team manager, Chaichi Raghimi.
Meanwhile, Iran on Friday opened there account at the tournament with Mohammad Rajablou bagging a bronze medal in the 30km point race.
The 46-member strong Iranian team wanted to set up a camp in New Delhi ahead of the competition.
“We wanted to come here a good 10 days in advance and set up a camp. But we have being handed visas in the last minute.
It is not good for the riders. You can’t accept them to perform just hours after landing here,” he said.
The first batch of Iranian cyclists, who landed in the capital on Tuesday, faced problems with the customs department in getting their equipments cleared.
“The customs people were refusing us permission to take our cycles. We stood there for five hours convincing the officials that these equipments were meant for championships.
Nobody from the organising body was there to help us out at the airport,” Chaichi said.
Chaichi said Iran will be raising the visa issue with the Asian Cycling Confederation, when its management committee meets on March 11.
“If they (organisers) know that they can’t provide visas on time they must not accept hosting such events. We will raise this point in the March 11 meeting of the Asian body,” he said.
The Iranians are staying at the Iran embassy and not at the designated team hotels, Chaichi said. “Obviously, our government is not happy with these visa matters,” he added.
However, the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) claimed that visas have cleared to the entire Iranian contingent and there have been no complaints from the federation.
“We have forwarded them the MHA clearance. Things were not delayed from our end. It was a political issue. We are sure Iranian team will be full strength for the road events,” tournament organising secretary, Onkar Singh said.