Visa woes cripple wrestlers’ dreams

The WFI is also toying with the idea of inviting a 10-member elite Iranian wrestling team to India after the World Championship.

Published: 18th July 2017 09:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2017 09:43 AM   |  A+A-

Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik (File | AFP)

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Indian wrestling teams preparing for the World Championship met with a big road block as they had to skip an exposure programme in Spain due to visa issues.The team of 24 — eight each in men’s freestyle, greco roman and women’s freestyle — were planning to compete and train in Spain from July 15, but had to cancel the trip as some of the grapplers failed to produce the necessary documents. The Indian team that participated in the Rio Olympics had trained in Spain before they left for Brazil, and Sakshi Malik — the lone grappler who won a medal in the gala event — credited that for her success.

The Spanish sojourn — an invitation tournament and five days of training — was planned so that it could help the team assess their preparations for the World Championship that will be held in Paris from August 21-26. However, some of the wrestlers were not able to obtain documents like salary slips and income-tax returns, thereby rendering the rest of the members ineligible to apply for visa. “To obtain visa for Spain, applicants need to submit salary slips for three months and income-tax returns of two years. Some of the wrestlers failed to do so and that cost the entire group since the application was forwarded together,” said a Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) official.

With only a little more than a month left for the World Championship, arranging an alternative trip will now be a herculean task for the WFI. However, their officials aren’t perturbed. “The World Championship won’t count much since it’s not an Olympic year. If it was one, the event would have served as a qualifier for the Olympics. “We are trying to arrange another trip to one of the European countries in the first week of August. After a week’s training — and if possible, a competition — the team will leave for Paris,” said a member. It’s been learned that Romania is the preferred destination and paper work has already begun.

Tapping Iran potential

The WFI is also toying with the idea of inviting a 10-member elite Iranian wrestling team to India after the World Championship. The objective, as per sources, is to prepare the Indian team for the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year. “If we can manage to bring 10 wrestlers from Iran, a large pool of Indian wrestlers can benefit from this association,” an official said.

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