India shoots itself in foot, isolated by IOC

Suspends all Indian applications seeking to host future events and urges international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistani shooters are denied visas

New Delhi: The fallout of the Pulwama terror attack is being felt on sporting ties. Ironically, India was hoping to isolate Pakistan but has unwittingly ended up getting isolated itself. The International Olympic Committee has suspended discussions on all Indian applications seeking to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistani shooters were denied visas to compete in a Delhi event.

The IOC has taken the line that the refusal of visas goes against the principles of the Olympic charter relating to discrimination and political interference from the host country. 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 Indian government had provided “clear written guarantees” to ensure access for all athletes.

The IOC said its stand against the country will remain clear until “written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic charter”.
The Indian Olympic Association had 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.

Again, ironically, the IOC suspension of India has taken place at a time when the sports ministry is headed  by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, himself an Olympic silver medallist in shooting and someone who is well conversant with all the norms for international events.  Essentially, the IOC suspension reflects on the lack of coordination among the concerned ministries in the Government of India, at a time when they should be taking concerted action.

Meanwhile, the national cricket administrators remained non-committal on whether India will be playing a match against Pakistan in England which is over three months away.  The Committee of Administrators, which runs the sport, said it is in talks with the government but would not take a stand just yet.

“The 16th of June is very far away. We will take a call on that much later and in consultation with the government,” CoA chief Vinod Rai said. But the ICC and other nations were requested to “sever ties” with countries from where “terrorism emanates”.

It is understood that BCCI officials are concerned that such a stand might cost them the hosting rights of the 2021 Champions Trophy and the 2023 World Cup. Asked if players have been consulted on the issue, Rai replied in the negative, indicating that the matter will be raised at the ICC quarterly Board meeting in Dubai from February 26 to March 2.

Rai, however, refused to comment on Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s reported statement that India should boycott the game against Pakistan. Sources said it was a foregone conclusion that COA would not take any decision on the matter as the ICC can’t ban Pakistan as per rules.

“We can never win a floor Test if we try and pass a resolution to ban Pakistan from the World Cup. We currently don’t have majority in ICC. In fact, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, in his individual capacity, has more votes than BCCI at the present moment,” a senior BCCI official said.

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