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May 31, 2021

Paris qualifiers: Visa delay puts Saadi’s participation in danger

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier karateka Saadi Abbas is facing a big issue. The next few hours will determine whether the former Asian champion will be able to contest for the Olympics seat or he will have to stay out of the World Qualifying round pencilled in for June 11-13 in Paris.

It has been learnt that if he is unable to get a France visa by Monday (today) and fails to fly by Monday for Paris at 2:40 pm from Dubai he may miss the event. Why? The issue is that Saadi will have to spend ten days in quarantine after reaching Paris which means he needs to fly by Monday (today).

“Yes, I am a bit nervous. I have to fly out of Dubai by 2:40 pm tomorrow or I will miss the event,” Saadi told ‘The News’ on Monday from Dubai.

It has been learnt that initially there was no quarantine condition and the rules were brought in a bit late which created an issue for the former US Open champion.

He went to Kazakhstan early this month, underwent a couple of weeks training at Kazakhstan’s international academy. He had planned to fly out of Kazakhstan for Dubai on May 17 as he had got an appointment for a visa for May 20. But he had to rush to Dubai earlier than his actual plan when he learnt that France had imposed quarantine rules for 17 nations, including Pakistan and the UAE.

He immediately applied for a visa, submitted a visa letter in due course as it came late and till Sunday he was waiting for the visa. “I am in contact with the embassy but they say that so far clearance has not come. Previously I used to get a visa inside three or five days but I don’t know why this time it is being delayed,” Saadi said.

“This time I got a good preparation chance and was in form but unfortunately now I am facing this issue,” Saadi said.

The Paris event is the last chance for the Lyari-born Saadi to make a cut for the Tokyo Olympics. The top three in each weight will make it to the Tokyo Games which will be held from July 23 to August 8.

“I have worked very hard and am perfectly ready but pray for me I get a visa or the Olympic seat seems to be out of my grasp,” Saadi said.

He said that he received tough training in Kazakhstan. “Yes, it was a fine training tour during which I made good recovery and was able to overcome my injuries because the academy had very good equipment,” Saadi said.

“I also played some good fights and beat almost everyone, including those fighters of Kazakhstan with world rankings eighth and ninth. It went so well,” he said.