Sports isolation looms large for India

The denial of visa to Pakistani shooters for the ISSF World Cup last month in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack has turned into a major issue in the sporting world.

The development not only isolates the WFI, but also creates impediments for hosting international events in India.   -  REUTERS

 

The denial of visa to Pakistani shooters for the ISSF World Cup last month in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack has snowballed into a major issue with India facing unprecedented isolation in the sporting world.

“It is a possibility and needs urgent attention,” warned a veteran sports official, who has been following the developments closely.

Following an adverse advisory by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the United World Wrestling (UWW) — the world governing body for the sport — has asked its affiliated federations to suspend their ties with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

A realistic danger of other international sports federations following in the footsteps of UWW looms large.

The UWW said, "Based on the information provided by the IOC, (sic) India would refuse to some countries the delivery of the visa for the athletes who have to come in India for a competition.

"The behaviour is against the main principle of the Olympic Charter, in particular against the principle of non-discrimination and the position of the IOC and UWW. The equality of treatment has to be guaranteed for all the athletes and delegations (sic) participating in international events without any kind of discrimination or political interference from the host country.

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“Accordingly, (sic) UWW recommends to all the affiliated or associated national wrestling federations to suspend their discussions or relations with the Indian wrestling federation until written guarantees will be obtained from the Indian government."

The development not only isolates the WFI, but also creates impediments for hosting international events in India. There is a possibility of the UWW pulling the Asian junior wrestling championships, in July, out of the country.

The WFI said it would write to the government regarding the development.

The crucial Hockey Series Finals, an Olympic qualifying event in Bhubaneswar in June, is a doubtful starter now. Even though Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra is heading the International Hockey Federation (FIH), it will be difficult for him to defy the IOC diktat.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI), which had faced the wrath of the IOC and International Boxing Association (AIBA) following the denial of visa to a Kosovo boxer for the World women's boxing championships held in Delhi last November, is unsure about hosting the Olympic qualifying event next year.

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"The first international event to be held in India is the Hockey Series Finals. If the government clears roadblocks for it, then the passage will be smooth for other federations. We will wait and watch," said BFI executive director Raj Kumar Sacheti.

At a time when the country is facing a major sports diplomacy crisis, there is apprehension over the future of other international events — including the $1750000 Indian Open golf (a European Tour and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event) and $350000 India Open badminton (a BWF super 500 event) — being hosted in the country regularly.