Editor’s note: Since the time this article was published. the International Olympic Committee has confirmed only two two Olympic quota spots reserved for the 25m rapid fire pistol have been revoked, the rest of the 14 spots remain as is. Read that report here.
All Olympic qualification spots that were on offer at the season-opening Shooting World Cup in New Delhi stand cancelled after Pakistan shooters were denied visa to participate in the event in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack, International Shooting Sport Federation announced on Thursday.
There was, however, confusion later in the evening with the Indian organising committee saying the decision is not final yet.
Pakistan shooters (for the 25m rapid fire pistol event) were not able to travel to New Delhi due to visa issues in the aftermath of the terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.
“Bad news is that Pakistan have not been granted visas for this world cup and according to IOC (International Olympic Committee) charter, there should be no discrimination,” ISSF President Vladimir Lisin said at the opening ceremony. “IOC has informed us that no quotas will be distributed at this World Cup because Pakistan not getting visas. IOC has asked us to distribute the Olympic quotas at different world cup.”
Pakistan had earlier written to ISSF asking for Olympic quotas to be withdrawn for the event in which the two shooters were supposed to be participating in.
UPDATE: National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh, however, told reporters that the decision is not final and that there has been a miscommunication on the part of Lisin, that he meant to say quota places “may” be withdrawn.
“Nothing is cancelled as of now. The status as of now is we don’t know. We are waiting,” Singh said. “There are meetings that are going on where the position is being assessed by the IOC and Indian government. Everyone is working very hard but it is very peculiar position. It is very unprecedented scenario and it is unfortunate.”
The first World Cup of 2019 originally had 16 Tokyo 2020 Olympics quota places up for grabs. Hosts India are fielding a 23-member squad with 11 shooters in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) category.
The event, with 500 shooters from 58 nations, will no longer be a qualifier event for the Tokyo Games.
The IOC, meanwhile, said a decision was imminent.
“The IOC is aware of the case and the Executive Board is deliberating on it. The decision of the IOC EB will be issued at 10pm Lausanne time (on Thursday, 230 am Friday IST),” a statement said.
Two Pakistani shooters, G.M. Bashir and Khalil Ahmed, and their manager were to take part in the event but had not arrived for Wednesday’s eve-of-contest formalities.
The International Shooting Sport Federation had earlier warned India of consequences.
“The ISSF World Cup in New Delhi faces an urgent situation as Pakistani athletes cannot get entry visas to participate in the competition,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Besides that, the ISSF and the organizing committee are discussing the possible consequences for India as a host country for future international competitions, in all sports,” ISSF had said.
There was a sense that India, which has expressed a strong interest in hosting the 2032 Olympics and 2030 Asian Games could face action from the International Olympic Committee in lieu of Pakistan being blocked from taking part in this World Cup.
National Rifle Association of India general secretary D.V. Seetharama Rao had said, according to AFP, that it was not certain the Pakistanis would cross the border even if they had visas.
“They have to come and shoot and shooting is such a technical sport with so much mental strain that this might cause disturbance in their mind,” Rao had told reporters. “Their families and coaches might not allow them to come.”
The IOC has always 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 from participate. 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.