World Junior Squash Championships 2018: Pakistani players denied Visa to take part in competition in India
What's the story?
The Indian High Commission stirred up fresh controversies as it has refused to grant Visa's to former world champions Pakistan -- to come and participate in the World Junior Squash Championship. The Championship is scheduled to take place in Chennai from July 18 and will come to a close around ten days later.
This controversial move by the Indian High Commission is also a direct violation of the International Olympic Committee’s code that all member countries have to aid and assist sports-persons for all the major sporting events. Although Squash is not included as an Olympic sport, both India and Pakistan are members of the IOC and are thus bound by the rules.
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This is the 3rd time that India has been selected to host the World Junior Squash Championships since 2002. Pakistan has always been exceptional and undoubtedly been the most decorated rivals in squash, winning the tournament a record five times. Denying the neighboring country players to set foot on Indian soil by refusing them Visa's is quite a bold move on the part of the Indian High Commission.
The heart of the matter
A total of nine members were selected for the upcoming World Junior Squash Championship, which included six players and three coaches. All of them were denied Visa's to visit India for the upcoming tournament.
The officials at PSF submitted the Visa request in April, the Indian High Commission delayed the proceedings and has returned the passports without Visa's after a span of two months.
“The visa processing time for India as per the official website of High Commission of India is 35 days. The event is planned to start from 18 July but the PSF had applied for Indian visa well in advance (i.e in end April,18),” said Flight Lieutenant Aamir Iqbal, Game Development Officer of PSF in a statement.
According to reports in the Pakistan media, the Indian High Commission went against the rules of the IOC by keeping their visas for months and then returning them later. This has caused much discomfort and aroused anger from the Pakistani squad, who were all set to try their luck for their sixth title at the Championships.
“Passports were returned by Indian High Commission stating that they are not in a position to issue Visa's to the Pakistani Contingent and no substantial reason was mentioned,” Iqbal added. This kind of treatment from the Indian side has obviously upset the Pakistan authorities who are deeming this stance from India as unethical.
Amidst all these controversies, the PSF has approached World Squash bodies to look into the matter and ensure participation of the five-time champions in the World Junior Championship 2018 or cancel this event altogether.
“I am not aware of the Indian High Commission but I am aware that the Pakistan Squash Federation has written-in to the Squash Federation. The Squash Federation, in-turn, is trying to find out what the actual position is,” Chief National Coach of Squash in India, Cyrus Poncha Poncha, said.
With roughly twenty days or so to take the final call about Pakistan's participation, it's sad to see politics between the two ever-sparring nations play spoilsport in this arena too. If Pakistan is not allowed to take part, India and the sport as a whole, will lose out on one of the fiercest competitive sides in squash. It's up to the authorities now to survey the situation and produce remedies.