LONDON: President Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) insisted on Monday that Pakistan's London Olympics 2012 contingent was "completely clean", fully accredited and it had nothing to do with any visa scam.
Lt General (Retd) Arif Hasan, who has arrived in London leading the Pakistani side, was speaking to The News after the publication of a shocking news report in a down-market tabloid here which claimed to have unearthed a ring of corrupt Pakistani officials and politicians involved in Olympics visa fraud. "We have nothing to do with any scam and we are not concerned with any scam. Pakistani Olympics Squad members are completely clean," he declared.
General (Rtd) Arif said that the 39 members strong Pakistani contingent taking part in London Olympics 2012 had been accredited to come to the UK after a multi-layered verification process. He explained that the sports federations in Pakistan select athletes in various disciplines through a long and rigorous process which involves checking of every single detail and particulars of the players, their histories and the games they play and their association. He said it's not just easy for anyone to become part of the tour. "That would be inconceivable."
The Sun newspaper claimed on Monday that it had infiltrated a crime ring offering false passports, visas and access to London 2012 as bogus support staff. It claimed to have uncovered a ring of corrupt Pakistani officials and travel staff conspiring with a prominent politician to bypass stringent security but the paper admitted that no visas were issued and that a passport was made only after a strikingly similar pictures was produced of one the people involved in the operation.
Arif said the ministry of sports, POA, Pakistan Sports Board, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs work closely with the foreign embassies and Olympic associations of the host nations to pick the players. "No Objection Certificate is then issued by Pakistan Sports Board," he said, adding that the documents of the contingent were prepared through proper laid down process of the International Olympics Committee and there is no possibility of anybody procuring fake accreditation for London Olympics 2012.
Arif said he had seen the report in the tabloid and was fully satisfied that the scam allegedly run by a few individuals in Lahore had nothing to do with the official players and the touring party. "All the players who are taking part in London Olympics 2012 have been fingerprinted and their bio-metrics have been recorded by the British London Organising Committee for the Games (BLOCG) and British High Commission. They were cleared after their passports were verified."
He further explained that when the contingent members have been accredited and have been issued visas why would they need fake visas from a random travel agent.