International Olympic Committee halts talks with India after denial of visa to Pakistan shooters

The Olympic rings are seen above the entrance on the facade of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India’s future as a host for sporting events remained uncertain following a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday. 

The issue arose when India refused visa requests from two Pakistani shooters expected to participate in the ongoing ISSF World Cup here on Saturday.

In a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the IOC made it clear that all future international sporting events in India would be put on hold unless the host gave a written guarantee that there would be no discrimination on participation of athletes.

Seeks written guarantee

“The IOC Executive Board 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,” the IOC ruled.

According to the IOC, it was “informed on 18 February that the Indian government authorities failed to grant an entry visa to the Pakistani delegation comprising two athletes and one official who were meant to participate in the ISSF World Cup. This is a qualification competition for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in which direct quotas are earned by the respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs). The two Pakistani athletes were due to compete in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event, starting on Saturday, in which two quota places are available for the Games.”

The IOC decided to restrict 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,” the IOC noted. 

Efforts made to salvage the situation proved in vain. “The ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) was asked to make a proposal on how the two available Olympic quota places will now be otherwise reassigned,” the IOC said.

In IOC’s view, the Indian stand was, “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.”

Reacting to the development, former IOC member Randhir Singh told The Hindu, “This issue has to be taken seriously. It can impact Indian sports in a big way. The government will have to give it in writing that no individual would be denied visa to participate in a sporting event in India.”

Former IOA president and veteran sports administrator Vijay Kumar Malhotra wanted a policy on this subject. 

“The IOC has a policy which we have to adhere to as far as uniform participation is concerned. We can’t discriminate,” he said.

The IOC sanctions may lead to cancellation of international events this year in badminton, chess, golf and hockey, among others. 

“The government will have to draw up a clear policy on this. We can’t afford to be denied sporting events,” Mr. Malhotra added.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 3:04:56 AM |

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