Pak visa denial issue: India can suffer sports isolation

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Wrestling’s governing body asks affiliated federations to suspend ties with WFI

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 federation (ISFs) following in the footsteps of UWW looms large.

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.

Hockey Series Finals in jeopardy

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.

“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 $17,50,000 Indian Open golf (a European Tour and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event) and $3,50,000 India Open badminton (a BWF super 500 event) — being hosted in the country regularly.

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