The Cycling Federation of India (CFI), all set to host the Asian cycling championship here from Thursday, has attracted international embarrassment for no fault of its.

Cyclists from a few countries, including Iran, are yet to get visas for the event and the CFI is facing pressure from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) over the issue. The uncertainty over Iran’s participation, especially, has irked the UCI and ACC.

In a recent article published on its website, the Cycling Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran (CFIRI) said that the CFI was not giving any “authentic” reply.

“The Iranian national team planned to have a camp in India for 10 days but the whole participation is now almost cancelled. Iranian national federation had to cancel tickets three times so far and sustained a big financial loss.

A huge amount of money has been spent on the riders’ preparation for the Asian championship but the innocent riders are now seeing their efforts going waste,” said the article.

The CFIRI has put out portions of letters written by the UCI president, Pat McQuaid, and the ACC secretary general, Choi Boo Woong, in favour of Iranian cyclists.

In the letter to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, McQuaid has said, “We are approached by the Cycling Federation of Iran as this federation has difficulties to obtain an entry visa to India. In order to ensure that (the) team can take part in this important event, we will be grateful if you could do your utmost to ensure that the entry visa to India will be issued in time. The Iranian riders are among the best and it will be a real pity to penalise these athletes because they can not obtain their visa in time.”

Choi, in his letter to CFI secretary general Onkar Singh, has said, “Iran cycling federation wonders if the India Embassy in Iran has been playing with the visas for the Iranian team and its participation to the (Asian) championships and ACC Congress/ MC Meetings. Would you please help it in obtaining their visas in time? If it is impossible for it to get the visas in time, then it has said that it would cancel its participation to the events and meetings in New Delhi, which would certainly be considered as a regrettable situation.”

At a press conference held here on Monday, CFI officials said they were helpless and hoped that the Union Home Ministry gave the green signal to the Iranians sooner than later. “The Asian championship will be incomplete without Iran. The UCI and ACC feel that the credibility of the championship will be affected if Iran does not participate,” said CFI president Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Onkar said the CFI was trying to convince the Government authorities. “We get a bad name for this. We had done all paperwork in time. We are trying to resolve the situation.”

Cyclists from China, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have also not got visas for the elite continental championship.

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