NEW DELHI: India has started to feel the ripple effect of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to suspend the country’s hosting rights of global sports events.
The decision, which was an outcome of the Indian government’s refusal to grant entry visas to two Pakistani shooters and their coach for the recently-concluded World Cup, has brought international sports in India to a virtual standstill, and is now threatening to cause major casualties on the sports front.
The country is likely to lose the chance to host several big-ticket tournaments in the coming months, as the government is unwilling to give a written assurance – to give visas to all athletes and officials – to IOC before the general elections.
To start with, the United World Wrestling (UWW) – the sport’s global governing body – has indicated that it may withdraw the hosting rights of the Junior Asian championships in July this year, following its stern directive to all its associated and affiliated national federations to stop communicating with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and not to award any hosting rights to them.
Similarly, the conduct of the men’s FIH Hockey Series Finals – an Olympic qualifying event – in Bhubaneswar in June is also engulfed in a cloud of uncertainty, with the international hockey federation’s (FIH) office-bearers in Lausanne trying to convince the IOC bosses headquartered over there not to snatch away the hosting rights of the event.
Since FIH president Narinder Batra, is also the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the veteran administrator is going all out to salvage the situation. However, that respite will not come anytime soon.
The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is also worried as it is slated to host the Commonwealth Championships in Odisha from July 17 to 22 where Pakistani paddlers are expected to compete.
Then, the combined shooting world Cup (rifle/pistol/shotgun), which has already been granted to India and is scheduled to be held just ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, could also become a victim of the IOC’s directive. It’s been learnt that the International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) has categorically told the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) that it intends to withdraw the hosting rights of the championship in the absence of a clear undertaking from the Indian government.
TOI was told by sources that the government will not offer any written assurance to the IOC, at least till the general elections. “It will most likely be looked into only after the elections. The atmosphere is not conducive for such an undertaking,” a government source informed.
India’s future bids for global events are also in jeopardy. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) wants to bid for the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifier in April 2020, but AIBA has already threatened to take way the hosting rights of the men’s senior world championships in 2021. Similarly, the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) bid for the FIFA under-17 women’s World Cup in 2020 is in deep trouble. Not to forget proposed bids for 2026 Youth Olympics, 2030 Asian Games and 2032 Summer Olympics.