Khandu meets PM; AOA writes to IOA
[ M Doley ]
ITANAGAR, 22 Sep: Three martial art (wushu) players from Arunachal Pradesh have been forced to pull out of the Asian Games after not receiving clearance from the host country, China.
The three players – Onilu Tega, Mepung Lamgu and Nyeman Wangu – were scheduled to travel to China on Wednesday night from IGI Airport in New Delhi.
This is the second instance in two months that the three players are unable to travel to China.
In July, the trio was issued stapled visas by the Chinese embassy, which led to the pulling out of the entire team from the World University Games in Chengdu.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed the issue in detail.
“He (Modi) has taken a stand and asked the sports minister to cancel his proposed visit to China,” Arunachal Olympic Association (AOA) secretary-general Bamang Tago said, quoting the chief minister as saying.
Meanwhile, a row has erupted with China over discrimination against the three athletes from Arunachal.
India has lodged a strong protest against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of sportspersons after Beijing denied visas and accreditation to the three sportspersons of Arunachal.
“Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and premeditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Bagchi said: “In line with our longstanding and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India. A strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons. China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states.”
“Further, as a mark of our protest against the Chinese action, the minister of information and broadcasting and youth affairs & sports of India has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games. The government of India reserves the right to take suitable measures to safeguard our interests,” the MEA spokesperson said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that, as the host country, China welcomes athletes from all countries to come to Hangzhou to participate in the Asian Games with legal documents.
“In response to media report about three Indian athletes who have been forced to pull out of the 19th #Asian Games, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that, as the host country, China welcomes athletes from all countries to come to Hangzhou to participate in the Asian Games with legal documents,” the Global Times wrote on X.
“As to the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese government doesn’t recognise it. Zangan (southern part of southwest China’s Zizang Autonomous Region) is part of China’s territory, Ning said,” the Chinese govt’s mouthpieces wrote on X.
The AOA has written to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take up the matter with the International Olympic Committee.
“Reports indicate that, out of the 13 Indian wushu athletes selected for the event, 10 were allowed to travel with the Indian squads on 20th September to Hangzhou, China. Regrettably, our proud three female athletes were left behind due to the non-issuance of valid accreditation numbers under the pretext of Arunachal Pradesh domicile. This incident is reminiscent of past instances where athletes from Arunachal Pradesh have faced discrimination,” the AOA secretary-general wrote to IOA president PT Usha.
“It is imperative to ensure that all Indian athletes, irrespective of their state of origin, are treated fairly and equally. Discrimination in any form runs counter to the core principles of the Olympic movement, and it is our collective responsibility to guarantee that every athlete has an equal opportunity to represent their country on the international stage,” the letter read.
It is pertinent to mention that the IOA had earlier stated that the three wushu players from Arunachal had got their accreditation from the Hangzhou Asian Games organisers.
In January 2011, weightlifter Yukar Sibi and team manager Abraham K Techi were prevented from boarding a flight to Beijing due to stapled visas issued by the Chinese embassy. In the same year, the Chinese embassy had issued stapled visas to three karate players and two officials from Arunachal, who were similarly prevented from travelling,
In 2013, archers Maselo Mihu and Sorang Yumi were stopped from participating in the Youth World Archery Championship due to the same issue.
In 2016, Bamang Tago, who was appointed to lead an Indian badminton contingent, was denied a visa by the Chinese government for the China Super Series Premier badminton tournament, citing Arunachal Pradesh domicile.
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