South Asian Junior Athletics: Uncertainty looms over Pakistan's participation

The last date for sending entries by name is September 30 and the organisers are waiting for Pakistan to do so before approaching the Central Government for clearance and security concerns.

Teams from the SAARC region – including Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, besides India and Pakistan – are expected to send around 200 athletes for the event.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Even as tensions between India and Pakistan continue unabated, the Uttar Pradesh Athletics Association is unsure of Pakistan's participation in the upcoming South Asian Junior Athletics Championships to be held next month.

The third edition of the event is expected to held on October 18 and 19 with countries already confirming their participation and entries by number. However, the last date for sending entries by name is September 30 and the organisers are waiting for Pakistan to do so before approaching the Central Government for clearance and security concerns.

“They have already confirmed 32 athletes. But we cannot approach the home ministry for visa or any security clearance before 30th. Given the kind of sentiments prevailing in the country at the moment, we do not want to take any risks. We cannot guarantee individual security or safety on our own without support and approval of the government,” UPAA secretary P. K. Srivastava said.

A decision on approaching the government on the issue would be taken after a SGM of the UPAA on October 1 which would be chaired, interestingly, by South Asian Athletics Federation President Lalit Bhanot. Bhanot is one of the accused in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam and is currently not part of the AFI.

Teams from the SAARC region – including Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, besides India and Pakistan – are expected to send around 200 athletes for the event.