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February 24, 2019

‘Indo-Pak tension will not affect OCA meeting’


February 24, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan’s sports officials believe that the expected meeting of the South Asia Olympic Council in Bangkok early next month will not be affected by the prevailing tension between Pakistan and India.

“Indian Olympic Association (IOA) does not support its government’s stance to deny Pakistani athletes India’s visas for a shooting event. I firmly believe that the tension between India and Pakistan will not affect the South Asian nations’ meeting on the sidelines of the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) General Assembly meeting in Bangkok in which the 13th South Asian Games fresh dates are expected to be finalised,” a senior sports official told ‘The News’ on Saturday.

“The South Asian Games is not an event of Pakistan or India, but it also carries six other nations of the region. I hope it will be a smooth meeting,” the official said.

Nepal was supposed to host the South Asian Games in March this year but they were postponed because venues were not prepared. It is expected that the biennial event will be shifted to September-October.

In a statement to the Press Trust of India (PTI), IOA secretary Rajeev Mehta said Friday, “It’s a dangerous situation for all sports in the country. In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events.”

India invited the wrath of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after it denied visas to the Pakistani shooting team which was scheduled to feature in the World Cup in New Delhi.

The IOC Executive Board revoked the Olympic qualifiers status of the 25m rapid fire pistol the other day following the request of the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) to the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF).

However, the official feared that India’s attitude could not only dent its own chances of hosting international events in future but it could also create problems for Pakistan to claim the rights of hosting international events.

“This is a big issue. It may also hurt Pakistan as far as claiming the rights of hosting international events is concerned as in that case we will have to give guarantee of issuing visas to India,” the official said.

Meanwhile, another Pakistani official said that the governments should not meddle in sports as it was against the IOC Charter.

“Sports should be kept away from politics. IOC charter teaches peace and it has no space for any such hatred and discrimination,” the official added.

The IOC said the situation went against the fundamental principle of the Olympic Charter “to not discriminate against any athlete”.

The visa refusal comes amid escalating tensions between the two countries following last week’s deadly suicide bombing against Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday’s attack, for which New Delhi has blamed Pakistan.

The prevailing situation has also dented the chances of India’s kabaddi team series against Pakistan in mid-March on Pakistan’s soil.

Pakistan is also expected to host an international handball event in Faisalabad in April. This correspondent has learnt that India has not yet confirmed its entry.

A senior Pakistani sports official said that the government would have to support the national federations pertaining to organising international events in future.

“If we organise an international event in future our government will have to back us strongly as we will have to give India visas for an event. It will not damage us if India then refuses to come to feature in any event in Pakistan,” added the official.

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