The denial of entry visas for two Pakistani shooters due to take part in a World Cup event this weekend came after last week’s attack by a militant group in the disputed region of Kashmir, which killed at least 40 paramilitary police.
India had accused Pakistan of not doing enough to control the militant groups responsible for the Kashmir attacks. Pakistan has denied any involvement.
The IOC said the refusal of visas for competitors went against the principles of Olympic charter relating to discrimination and political interference from the host country.
“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute … efforts … and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,”
IOC statement said read
“As a result, the IOC Executive Board also decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India,” read the statement by the IOC
The body also urged all international sports federations not to hold events in India, or grant hosting rights to the country for future competitions, until the government had provided “clear written guarantees” to ensure access for all athletes.
This is a major setback for India considering The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) last year laid out an ambitious roadmap to host the Youth Olympics in 2026, the Asian Games in 2030 and the Summer Olympics for the first time in 2032.
“It’s a big setback for sports in the country,” IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta told Reuters.
“We’ve been in constant touch with the government, trying to explain to them and convince them to grant visas to the Pakistani shooters. This is really unfortunate.”
This is not the first time India has pulled something off like this. Last year, a boxer from Kosovo, which India does not recognize as an independent state, was denied visa for the women’s world championships in New Delhi.
The International Shooting Sport Federation said on Wednesday it faced “an urgent situation as Pakistani athletes cannot get entry visas to participate in the competition” because of the Kashmir attack.
While India and Pakistan’s relationship has mostly been a mess, the ties have become highly critical as India actively pursues the boycott of Pakistan and a solution is no where in-sight. Especially with India’s General Elections coming up, a hostile attitude towards Pakistan helps a lot in garnering support from the super nationalistic masses. Ethnic discrimination in India has also started against the residents of Kashmir after the Pulwama attack.