Govt clears way for Pakistani athletes’ entry into India

Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers in the country, after the government's written assurance, that "such commitment of the government stems from our world view of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' or 'The World is one family' which, in essence, is also the spirit behind the International Olympic movement"

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New Delhi: The government, on Tuesday, provided a written undertaking to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it will allow athletes and officials from all visiting nations to participate in India “without any prejudice to our principled positions and policies on other political matters”.

The IOC’s all-powerful executive board will now deliberate on the government’s undertaking before lifting its ban in coming weeks. It would clear the way for sportspersons from Pakistan and Kosovo to take part in international tournaments in India.

The IOC had suspended India’s hosting rights after the Indian government had denied visas to two Pakistani shooters and their coach for the shooting World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Delhi in February following the dastardly Pulwama terrorist attack, which took the lives of 44 Indian soldiers.

Earlier, India had also refused to grant a visa to a female Kosovan boxer for the women’s world boxing championship in November last year, since the authority doesn’t recognize Kosovo as a nation.

The decision means that India will soon be back to hosting multi-sport events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers in the country, after the government’s written assurance that “such commitment of the government stems from our world view of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘The World is one family’ which, in essence, is also the spirit behind the International Olympic movement”.

The government’s relaxed stance could brighten the chance for Pakistan women’s cricket team’s visit to India for a bilateral ODI series between July and November this year as part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s Championship, which will determine qualification for the Women’s World Cup in 2021.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) had written to the sports ministry last month seeking permission to host Pakistan’s women’s team, which had put the ball in the ministry of external affairs’ (MEA) court.

The decision will also enable Pakistan’s national table tennis team to come for the Commonwealth Championships in Odisha from 17 to 22 July, for which, the Pakistani paddlers have already entered their entries.

“It’s the policy of the government that India will hold international sporting events and will permit all qualified athletes belonging to any National Olympic Committee (NOC) recognized by IOC or any national federation affiliated to the 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 athletes,” sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya wrote to Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) president
Narinder Batra and marked a copy of the letter to IOC chief Thomas Bach.

“The government of India has always attached high importance to the development of sports in the country. It’s the vision of the authority to enhance the sporting capabilities of our people through our association with the IOC, and based on the values and principles of the Olympic charter,” the letter added.