IOA tells sports ministry to resolve Kosovo boxer visa issue immediately

IOA president Narinder Batra said that Kosovan boxer Donjeta Sadiku’s non-participation in the Women’s World Championships could lead to India being barred by the IOC from hosting major events.

IOA chief Narinder Batra said that not granting visa to the lone Kosovo boxer could lead to the IOC asking all the international federations not to award major events to India. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Fearing serious repercussions, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Wednesday asked the sports ministry to immediately resolve the controversy surrounding Kosovan boxer Donjeta Sadiku’s visa.

In a strongly-worded letter to the sports ministry, IOA president Narinder Batra said that Sadiku’s non-participation in the Women’s World Boxing Championships beginning Thursday, could lead to India being barred by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from hosting major events.

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“It is required that immediate action is taken today by Indian authorities to make sure the athletes and delegation from Kosovo will be able to take part in the Women’s World Boxing Championships and will be treated in the same conditions as any other participants without any undue discrimination in accordance with the values and principles which govern the Olympic Movement worldwide,” Batra said in the letter.

“Failing which the situation will be reported to all international sports organisations concerned for appropriate action which will call into question the hosting of future international sports events in India until the issue is solved,” he added.

The IOA chief said that not granting visa to the lone Kosovo boxer could lead to the IOC asking all the international federations not to award major events to India. Recently, the IOC had sent letters to all the international federations not to award major events to Spain after athletes from Kosovo were not allowed to participate under their own flag at the Karate World Championships held there.

In the letter, Batra said that there were multiple examples in the past of local organisers/host countries of major international sports events allowing the participation of athletes from countries/territories that they did not recognise at a political level. India does not politically recognise Kosovo - a disputed territory in South Eastern Europe.

“International sports organisations cannot accept a situation where a host country unilaterally forbids the participation of certain athletes from other countries/territories on political grounds. Otherwise, this will threaten the fundamental principles of Olympic Movement,” he wrote in the letter.

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Another IOA official said Kosovo also participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics despite the fact that Brazil, too, doesn’t recognise the disputed country.

Kosovan boxers did not participate in the Youth World Championships held in Guwahati last year due to the same issue. The IOA plans to bid for the 2026 Youth Olympics Games and the bidding process is likely to start in 2020.