New Delhi: Union Minister Anurag Thakur strongly criticized China’s refusal to grant visas to three Indian athletes hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, labeling it as “discriminatory” and in violation of the Olympic Charter.
Despite being cleared by the Hangzhou Asian Games organising committee, two athletes, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu, were unable to obtain their accreditation cards, which serve as entry visas to China. Nyeman Wangsu, the third athlete, successfully acquired his accreditation but was subsequently denied entry into China.
In response to this perceived injustice, India’s Sports Minister, Mr. Thakur, canceled his planned visit to China as a protest. Speaking in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, he voiced his disapproval, stating, “As you can see, I am not in China; I am in Coimbatore, standing with my players. This discriminatory behavior by a country, which goes against the principles of the Olympic Charter, is unacceptable.”
He further emphasized, “China’s actions are unacceptable to India, and I have canceled my trip to China on these grounds, as they have denied players from Arunachal Pradesh the opportunity to participate in the Asian Games.”
India swiftly conveyed its strong protest to China, asserting its right to take “appropriate measures” to safeguard its interests, as stated by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Mr. Bagchi accused China of specifically targeting Indian athletes, a move that contradicts both the spirit and the letter of the Asian Games, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against participants from member nations. He stated, “The government of India has learned 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.”
He continued, “In line with our long-standing and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens based on domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is, and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India.”
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This incident occurs amidst a backdrop of controversy regarding China’s release of a “standard map” that includes Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory. Notably, this is not the first instance of China singling out athletes from Arunachal Pradesh. In 2016, Bamang Tago, a manager for the Indian badminton team, was denied a Chinese visa. Earlier this year in July, three wushu players faced delays and were issued stapled visas when traveling to Chengdu for the World University Games, prompting India to withdraw its entire wushu squad from the event.
Randhir Singh, the acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia, confirmed that this issue has been discussed within their organization and is being raised with both governments, marking a broader international concern.
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