The denial of entry to Indian Wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh on Friday led to Union sports minister Anurag Thakur cancelling his visit to the Asian Games even as the government registered an official protest at the decision.
The three – Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu – were refused despite having e-accreditations from the organisers.
“As a mark of our protest against the Chinese action, Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports of India has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games.”Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs
While Wangsu could not board the flight at all, the other two were told they could only travel to Hong Kong. With no further development and their event scheduled for Sunday, it seems unlikely they will be able to participate.
The same athletes had earlier been given stapled visas for the World University Games in Chengdu with India withdrawing the entire wushu contingent in protest.
“The Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and pre-meditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh...In line with our long-standing and consistent position, India firmly rejects the differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity,” Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said on the issue.
“A strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons...Further, as a mark of our protest against the Chinese action, Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports of India has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games...,” he added.
Ironically, the decision came on a day the Indian flag was hoisted and the contingent officially welcomed into the Athletes’ Village.
Earlier in the day, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Games organising committee made statements on the Asian Games being an “inclusive event for all sports lovers of Asia” but refused to comment on the contentious issue.
“This issue was brought to our notice yesterday and we are taking it up with the organising committee to try and find a solution quickly. We will inform you accordingly,” acting Director General of the OCA, Vinod Kumar Tiwari, said.
“We are meeting as a working group also and taking it up with the government. Apart from the government-to-government interaction, it is under discussion by the OCA also,” Randhir Singh, the acting OCA president added.
But the host appeared to be in no mood to budge and Wei Jizhong, honorary life vice-president of the OCA executive board and chairman of the Ethics Committee instead claimed that China had issued the visa but the Indians hadn’t accepted.
“I should clarify that these Indian athletes got visa to enter. China didn’t refuse any visa. But according to Chinese government regulations, we have the right to give different kinds of visa. But unfortunately, these athletes didn’t accept this visa,” he insisted.
Interestingly, the issue of different visas doesn’t arise in the case of multi-discipline events, where the accreditation from the organisers acts as a visa and a separate one is not required.
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