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IOC withdraws Olympic places from India event over visa row

Indian protestors burn tyres and shout slogans against Pakistan in Jammu on February 15, 2019, the day after a suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers, an attack over which India has vowed to “isolate” Pakistan © AFP/File / Rakesh BAKSHI

New Delhi, India, Feb 21 – The International Olympic Committee on Thursday cancelled places for the 2020 Tokyo Games shooting competition to be awarded at an event in India after the host country refused to give visas to Pakistani shooters.

India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to “isolate” its arch-rival neighbour over the attack.

“This situation goes against the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said in a statement.

Despite “last minute joint efforts” by the IOC, the Indian National Olympic Committee and shooting governing body the ISSF, “no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” it added.

“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.

Beyond the shooting competition, the IOC said it was suspending all discussions on potential future hosting of Olympic-related events in India until it received “written guarantees” from the government that the country would comply with IOC rules.

ISSF world body president and IOC executive member Vladimir Lisin (pictured 2008) said the International Shoot Sport Federation and the Indian organising committee had done everything possible to get the Pakistani shooters to the contest in India © AFP/File / STRINGER

The IOC said it was also advising federations to “neither award to nor hold sports events in India until the above-mentioned guarantees are obtained.”

Sixteen qualifying places for the Tokyo Games were to be decided at the opening shooting World Cup event in New Delhi.

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.

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Over 500 shooters are taking part in the Indian event, for which competition starts on Saturday.

Pakistan, which has denied any role in the Kashmir attack, says two shooters and a coach were denied visas to attend the contest.

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.

Amid widespread anger over last week’s Kashmir attack, some calls have also been made for India’s cricket team to boycott its scheduled World Cup game against Pakistan in England later this year.

Media reports said Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI, had prepared a letter calling for Pakistan to be banned from the cricket World Cup.


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