Sports and politics different, but bilateral competitions can bring in politics: Sports minister on Pakistan

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has suggested that Pakistan women's cricket team's participation in the ICC Women's Championship matches in India will not be a problem since it is a multilateral tournament.

Union Minister for Youth affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju during his visit to the Sports Authority of India centre in Mumbai.   -  PTI

The Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, categorically said here that  conduct of exclusive bilateral games featuring India is a matter that will involve the Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO. Without naming Pakistan or any other country, Mr.Rijiju  said: “Bilateral matches can be a little sensitive and I cannot comment on it.”

On his first visit to the Sports Authority of India at Western Suburb, Kandivali, on Sunday, Rijiju was asked if the Pakistan women’s cricket team will be allowed entry into India to play ODIs that are part of the ICC Women’s Championship. “Sports and politics are different, but bilateral competitions can bring in politics, which is not the case with multilateral competitions like the Olympics and World Cup competitions.”

After Rijiju took charge as Sports Minister,the government of India gave an undertaking to the International Olympic Committee that visas will be given for all sportspersons for future multilateral events in India. This was after the IOC placed temporary restrictions on India hosting multilateral competitions after two Pakistani shooters were denied entry for Shooting World Cup which took place in New Delhi in February.

There were doubts over the Pakistan men's hockey team's participation in the Hockey World Cup last year, but was later cleared by the Indian High Commission.

Addressing sportspersons training at the SAI here, Mr.Rijiju expressed unhappiness at India’s display in the past Olympic Games. “Next year is Tokyo and we will go out of the way to help Indian sportspersons qualify for the Olympics. But plans are on the anvil to really prepare our sportspersons for Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028). “