NEW DELHI: In the wake of Pakistan shooters being denied entry for the ISSF World Cup beginning in New Delhi on Saturday, its federation has written to the world body, requesting it to withdraw Olympic quotas from the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol competition, in which their marksmen were supposed to take part.
“Pakistan have written a letter to us (Wednesday). They requested us not to distribute the Olympic quota places in the event where their shooters were supposed to participate,” Alexander Ratner, ISSF secretary general, said.
The two shooters are Muhammad Khalil Akhtar and GM Bashir. They were supposed to come with a coach.
Last week’s terror attack in Pulwama had cast doubts on Pakistan’s participation. Their fate was sealed late on Monday, with the Pakistan federation officials confirming that they had been denied visas.
Despite their request to drop the quotas from the event, it is not clear what the ISSF can do. “It’s not in our hands. Only the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the authority to change. Olympic qualification for all sports is approved by them. Any changes, any national federation request is approved by the IOC,” Ratner explained of the situation.
The men’s 25m rapid fire event is scheduled for Sunday and Monday. A total of eight events, including men’s 25m rapid fire, will have 16 quotas (two per event) on offer. Ratner added that the world body and the organising committee have been in touch with the IOC and are trying to find a solution. They were due to have a meeting with sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore late on Wednesday. “They (IOC) referred to the circular and asked us to find a solution. We hope to talk to the minister and see how it goes,” Ratner said.
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh termed the situation unfortunate. He said it’s up to the ISSF to take a final call. “That is their (Pakistan’s) request to the ISSF. The format of the competition doesn’t change. It’s a bit unfortunate the team has not been granted visas despite our efforts and all clearances being sent to the high commission,” Raninder, who is also the ISSF vice-president, said. “NRAI is waiting for the Indian high commission to inform their stance in writing.”
India might face the consequences for this. The ISSF and the IOC might reconsider granting hosting rights to India in the near future. “It’s up to the IOC. It’s not a question of shooting. It’s a general thing. It affects the National Olympic Committee rather than the individual sport,” Ratner said.
This is not the first time India has been embroiled in an issue like this. Last year, a participant from Kosovo was denied visa for the Women’s World Boxing Championship in New Delhi. That had also cast doubts on India’s future with regards to hosting international boxing events.