It’s ‘stupid’, India’s foreign pistol coach vents his ire after quota revocation

The International Olympic Committee scrapped the two Olympic quotas on offer in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol competition of the event.

Asian Games gold medallist Saurabh Chaudhary (left) and Abhishek Verma discuss a point with coach Pavel Smirnov, as Shweta Singh trains her sight on target ahead of the shooting World Cup.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

India’s foreign pistol coach Pavel Smirnov on Friday vented his ire after the IOC revoked two Olympic quotas from the New Delhi World Cup owing to denial of visas to Pakistan shooters in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.

India denied visas to Pakistani shooters for the World Cup that starts on Saturday in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, which killed more than 40 CRPF personnel.

As a result, the International Olympic Committee scrapped the two Olympic quotas on offer in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol competition of the event.

“Who did not give the visas? I know. It was very stupid. It is very bad for India, a setback,” Smirnov, who is involved with Indian shooting for a decade now, said.

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“In 2016, you remember, Iran was dropped from the Olympics. This has happened again, only because of stupidity by some official,” Smirnov, who coached the likes of Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar and Jitu Rai, said.

Smirnov was appointed the national coach in 2013.

Within hours of International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) president Vladimir Lisin’s declaration that all the 16 quotas have been revoked due to the situation with Pakistan, the IOC said the Olympic qualification status has been withdrawn from only the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event.

This event had two spots on offer.

Indian shooters competing in the event - Anish Bhanwala, Adarsh Singh and Arpit Goel - went about their practice quietly at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range.

“Quota or no quota, I am focussed on my event here and not thinking about anything else at the moment. No, this has not at all disturbed my plans,” said Bhanwala, the youngest Indian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Earlier in the day, The National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) heaved a sigh of relief a day before the start of the competition.

“The Organising Committee of the New Delhi World Cup wishes to unequivocally thank the ISSF President Vladimir Lisin, the ISSF Secretary General Alexander Ratner, the IOA President Dr. Narinder Batra, and the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Col (Retd.) RVS. Rathore for ensuring the best possible outcome to a vexed and complexed scenario,” NRAI president Raninder Singh stated.