Olympic quota places taken away over visa denial to Pakistani shooters

The Olympic quotas on offer at the New Delhi Shooting World Cup 2019 have been cancelled after two Pakistani shooters were denied visas to participate in the event following the Pulwama terror attack.

NRAI president Raninder Singh talks to the media after ISSF president Vladimir Lisin announced that there would be no Olympic Olympic quota places on offer at the New Delhi Shooting World Cup 2019.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Denial of visas to Pakistani shooters has led to Olympic quota places being taken away from the New Delhi Shooting World Cup to begin on Saturday.

On an evening meant to be a celebratory welcome for the shooters
with a fine cultural function, International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) president Vladimir Lisin's announcement that the Olympic quotas were taken away at the behest of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), came as a dampener.

Lisin said the denial of visas to two Pakistani shooters to come to India and compete in the World Cup was the reason for IOC's decision.

The Indian squad for the ISSF World Cup poses at a press conference.   -  PTI

"It was no fault of the organising committee, or the ISSF. It is political interference in sport. No athlete can be discriminated, as per the Olympic charter. So, the IOC has said no Olympic Quota places in this World Cup. The quota places will be distributed in another World Cup’’, he said, as he declared the World Cup open.

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Saying that he did not want to end his speech with the bad news, Lisin said that the shooters can give their best performances and they would count towards the medals and records.

Indian shooter Sanjeev Rajput, who took the oath of honour, along with Heena Sidhu, said: "It is disheartening. But, we can prepare better for winning the Olympic quota places in other World Cups.’’

Sanjeev Rajput and Heena Sidhu take the oath of honour during the opening ceremony in Delhi on Thursday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Incidentally, India had hosted the Olympic qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Olympics after the IOC took away the Olympic quota places from the Asian Championships hosted by Kuwait, citing a similar case of political interference.

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president and vice-president of the ISSF, Raninder Singh, who had made all the efforts to host the first World Cup of the season with Olympic quota places, tried to put up a brave face by saying that nothing had been decided as yet with regard to the Olympic quota places.

There was no hint from the ISSF about the announcement, and Lisin himself broke the news.

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Union Sports Minister Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was scheduled to be part of the opening ceremony, but he did not make it to the shooting range. In fact, the opening ceremony closed much before the scheduled time.

Nearly 50-odd countries have assembled for the World Cup to participate in eight events each for men and women. For the first time, the shooting World Cup will be broadcast worldwide, as the ISSF has a signed a deal to that effect, starting with this World Cup.

There will be official pre-event training on Friday, and the World Cup will start on Saturday.

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