IOC suspends India from hosting Olympic qualifying events

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New Delhi, Feb 22: In a major setback for India, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday suspended all Indian applications to host future Olympic-related events until New Delhi guarantees in writing the entry of all participants.

The IOC measure comes after two Pakistani shooters were denied visas to compete in the ISSF Shooting World Cup, starting here on Saturday, which also resulted in scrapping of two of the 16 Tokyo Olympic quota places on offer in the marquee tournament.

The denial of visas followed the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that led to the martyrdom of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute efforts and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” the IOC statement said.

“As a result, the IOC Executive Board also decided to suspend all discussions with the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India,” it added.

The global sports governing 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 government had provided “clear written guarantees” to ensure access for all athletes.

The IOC also stated that the men’s 25-metre rapid fire pistol category, in which the two Pakistanis – G.M. Bashir and Khalil Ahmed – were due to take part, is not a part of the Olympic qualifying process.

That particular event had two Olympic quotas on offer, which have been scrapped by the IOC following a written request by the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) on Wednesday.

Those quota places will now be included in the other ISSF World Cups scheduled for later this year.

International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) President Vladimir Lisin had earlier told the media on the sidelines of the World Cup opening ceremony on Thursday evening that all the 16 quota places could be scrapped. That number, however, has been reduced to two by the IOC.

“The IOC restricted the withdrawal of recognition as an Olympic qualification event to the 25m rapid fire pistol competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate,” the IOC said.

“This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events who are already in India for their competition.”

Stating that no solution could be found despite best efforts of the IOC and the ISSF, the world body said the non-participation of the Pakistani shooters goes against the basic principles of the Olympic charter.

“This situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic charter, in particular the principles of non-discrimination. In view of the above, we wish to inform that the IOC executive board decided to revoke the Olympic qualification status of the specific event,” it added.

(IANS)