Two days before the season-opening International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in New Delhi, the Pakistan federation has written to the game’s governing body requesting them to not grant Olympic quota places at the event in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol category.
The National Rifle Shooting Association of Pakistan made this request after confirming on Tuesday that their shooters were not issued visas by the Indian High Commission in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack last week.
ISSF secretary general Alexander Ratner said that Pakistan has requested the same in a letter written to the international federation, but the decision rested with the International Olympic Committee.
“We have received a letter from Pakistan federation two or three hours ago in which they requested us to not grant quota places in the men’s 25m rapid fire event,” Ratner said at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in Delhi. “They are requesting not to distribute quota places in Delhi and do it at the next World Cup in Beijing instead. It is the authority of the IOC now.”
Two Pakistani shooters – G M Bashir and Khalil Ahmed – were entered to participate in the World Cup but are unlikely to travel to India due to visa issues after the Pulwama attack on February 14. This prompted NRAP to approach the ISSF.
It was earlier reported that Pakistan shooters were granted visa but later the NRAP claimed that they haven’t received the visas till Wednesday. Ratner also confirmed that Pakistan shooters have not received the visas.
A source in the federation confirmed that one of the shooters was also a Pakistan Navy Personnel. NRSF president Ahmed Razi had said that air tickets had been booked as well after NOCs for taking the ammunition to New Delhi for the use in the championship were obtained.
National Rifle Association of India President Raninder Singh clarified that Pakistan are within their rights to ask ISSF for a reconsideration of quotas at the Delhi event.
“Pakistan team has not been granted [visa] for whatever reasons despite our efforts,” Singh said. “However, the format of the competition has not been changed. As of now, I am in touch with ISSF president and secretary general and have not been intimidated [of what the way forward is].”
“A demand of the member is a demand. It is up to the president, secretary general and the members of the executive of the ISSF to take a call in its wisdom on that issue. The other consequences follow on this decision of government of India, we will see when they come up.”
If the IOC decides to scrap the two Olympic quotas from the event, it will affect the three-member Indian team including 17-year-old Commonwealth Games gold winner Anish Bhanwala.
The IOC has in past pushed for equal treatment of sporting delegations without any discrimination and political interference from the host nation. In a recent example on Sunday, the International Paralympic Committee stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 world para swimming championships after the country banned Israeli swimmers to participate.
Ratner, however, said it is unlikely India will face any consequences of the current situation. “India are hosting the 2020 World Cup as well and let’s think positively here. The IOC is involved and we are also in contact with them.”
While IOC’s stand on the issue is awaited, a similar issue in 2015 had made news before the Rio Olympics. After the completion of the event, the Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait lost its qualification status for Rio Olympics as an Israeli delegate member was denied visa. The event was later moved to India.
Meanwhile, the ISSF president has also sought a meeting with Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Wednesday to “invite him for the event and discuss any issues.”