KARACHI: Pakistani athletes may now be able to show their worth in any Olympic-related event on India’s soil in future as the Indian government has given a written guarantee to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it would permit all qualified athletes belonging to any recognised National Olympic Committee (NOC) to compete in its country.
In a letter to Indian Olympic Association President Narendra Batra, Union Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya has said that the government is looking forward to cooperating with the IOC guidelines on hosting international events in future and they would permit all qualified athletes belonging to any country.
The letter has also been marked to IOC President Thomas Bach, Indian media reported on Wednesday. “It is the policy of the government that India will hold international sporting events and will permit all qualified athletes belonging to any National Olympic Committee recognised by the IOC or any national federation affiliated to international federation concerned to participate. Such participation of athletes shall be without prejudice to our principled positions and policies on other political matters including issues such as international recognition or otherwise of the country of origin of the athlete,” the letter said.
Early this year India had denied visas to two Pakistani shooters and an official who were set to feature in the ISSF World Cup (rifle/pistol), an Olympic qualifying event, hosted by New Delhi from February 20-28.
India took the decision following a terrorist attack in Pulwama.
The decision had prompted IOC to cancel Olympic places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics shooting competition. Beyond the shooting event IOC had categorically stated that it was suspending all discussions on potential future hosting of the Olympic-related events in India until it received “written guarantee” of the Indian government that the country would comply with the IOC rules.
India took the stance to pledge to abide by the Olympic Charter as it has already set its eyes on bidding for a number of major events like the Asian Games, Youth Olympics and Summer Olympics in the next few decades.
Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) President Lt General (r) Arif Hasan has appreciated the move of the Indian government.
“It’s a very sensible decision,” Arif told ‘The News’ on Wednesday. “This is in line with the Olympic values. Athletes must be allowed to travel without any discrimination.”
It is pertinent to mention here that India had also received warning from Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) in November last year after India denied visa to a Kosovan boxer for the Women World Boxing Championships in New Delhi. India does not recognise Kosovo.