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LAUSANNE: The International Olympic Committee have suspended all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.

The denial of entry visas for two shooters due to take part in a World Cup event this weekend followed last week’s attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in the disputed region of Kashmir, which killed at least 40 paramilitary police.

India has accused its neighbour of not doing enough to control the militant groups responsible for the Kashmir attacks. Pakistan has denied any involvement.

The IOC said the refusal of visas for competitors went against the principles of the Olympic charter relating to discrimination and political interference from the host country.

“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 Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India,” it said.

The 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 Indian Olympic Association (IOA) last year laid out an ambitious roadmap to host the Youth Olympics in 2026, the Asian Games in 2030 and the Summer Olympics for the first time in 2032.

“It is a dangerous situation for all sport in the county,” Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta told the Press Trust of India news agency.

“In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events. We will approach the government again so that the situation does not reach that far,” he added.

“The country’s image has been lowered. If the Indian government does not give guarantees within 15 to 20 days, another letter may come from IOC.”

Last year, a boxer from Kosovo, which India does not recognise as an independent state, was denied visa for the women’s world championships in New Delhi.

Boxing’s governing body AIBA criticised the decision and warned it might reopen the bidding process for the 2021 men’s championship due to take place in India.

SHOOTING EVENT STATUS REVOKED

The Pakistani shooters were scheduled to take part in the 25m pistol event and the IOC said two spots at next year’s Tokyo Olympics that had been up for grabs in that competition had been revoked.

The International Shooting Sport Federation said on Wednesday it faced “an urgent situation as Pakistani athletes cannot get entry visas to participate in the competition” because of the Kashmir attack.

The IOC said Olympic berths would still be on the line in other events.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) and the Indian NOC (National Olympic Committee), 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 said in a statement.

“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. 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.”

The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to not discriminate against any athlete.

“Equal treatment must be guaranteed for all participating athletes and sporting delegations at international sports events, without any form of discrimination or political interference from the host country,” the statement said.

Sixteen qualifying places for the Tokyo Games were to be decided at the opening shooting World Cup event that starts on Saturday.

ISSF president Vladimir Lisin said these would now go to other qualifying events.

“The quotas will be distributed at another World Cup. No one can be discriminated against and we have to follow the IOC decision,” he added.

Lisin said the ISSF and the Indian organising committee had done everything possible to get the shooters to the contest.

But National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh said he could not go against the Indian government’s decision.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019