Badminton stars await visas for world championship

According to a Badminton Association of India (BAI) official handling the travel plans, the reason for the delay is that the players have applied for the visas late.

While Ashwini Ponnappa's (right) visa to travel for the world championship has been cleared, N. Sikki Reddy's waiting with several others for hers.   -  G.P Sampath Kumar

For more than 10 players of the 21-member Indian squad for the World badminton championship starting in Glasgow from August 21 to 27, it will be an agonizing wait for the next 24 hours as their visas have not been cleared yet.

Among those waiting with bated breath on Tuesday morning were women’s doubles players N. Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa.

But late in the afternoon, Ashwini got a message that her visa has been cleared and it should reach her soon.

However, Sikki Reddy, who applied along with Ashwini on the same date, is yet to get it cleared.

She has to sort the issue by Wednesday to travel with the team.

According to a Badminton Association of India (BAI) official handling the travel plans, the reason for the delay is that these players have applied for the visas late and should have preferred the fast track process given the paucity of time.

He also revealed that the Union External Ministry is peeved at some of the players taking to social networking sites like Twitter to express their ‘grievances’ conveniently forgetting the mistake on their part in applying well ahead (15-day mandatory period needed to get the visas).

But Sikki Reddy who is keeping her fingers crossed, informed Sportstar that they had applied well in advance – two weeks ago and paid the visa processing fee of Rs. 7000 per head.

Sikki said that since they had time, they did not opt for fast track visa, which would also mean spending Rs. 17,000 per head. “With no reimbursement for this, why should a player spend extra from his or her own pocket when we actually applied well in advance,” she argued.

Significantly, none of the big names figure in this list of players waiting for visa clearance as they all got five-year visa to the host nation.

Some of the players who are still waiting for the visas include K. Manisha, Shlok Ramchandran, Chirag Shetty, R. Satwiksairaj who are expected to play in the qualifying rounds of the World championship.