Denied visas to US, furious AAI withdraws archers from World Youth Championship
The US embassy in the national capital granted visa to only seven archers, two coaches and a Sports Authority of India official while rejecting 21.
In a huge setback, the Indian archery team on Friday pulled out of the World Youth Archery Championships in the United States after 21 of its 31-member team were denied visas on apprehensions that they would not return to India.
Livid over the US embassy's decision, the AAI decided to withdraw from the event in Yankton, South Dakota as a mark of protest.
"The first stipulation for an international meet is that the country organising it shall give visas to all participating countries... even to those with which it doesn't have strong ties. We waited as much as we could. Tomorrow they'll work only till 4:00 pm. Now, we dont have time to get all the relevant papers, so we had to withdraw," AAI president VK Malhotra told the Hindustan Times.
Apart from the archers, India's well-travelled Korean coach Chae Wom Lim was also refused visa by the US embassy in New Delhi.
"We have decided to withdraw the team from this tournament as a mark of protest. This was decided by AAI president Malhotra even though we had reapplied for visas," Archery Association of India treasurer Virender Sachdeva told PTI.
The Indian contingent, comprising Under-20 boys and girls, was scheduled to leave for the US on Saturday for the 8-14 June event.
But the US embassy in the national capital granted visa to only seven archers, two coaches and a Sports Authority of India official while rejecting 21, thereby putting serious doubts over India's participation in the event.
Speaking to The Times of India, AAI secretary general Anil Kamineni said: "The visas were denied on the basis of section 214 (b) of US visa law where the archers failed to satisfy the visa officers that they will return to India after the event."
Besides Lim, three Indian coaches Mim Bahadur Gurung, Chandra Shekhar Laguri, Ram Awdesh and masseuse Pinki were also denied visa. Despite the organisers arranging for additional supporting documents, the visa officers were not convinced that the archers would return to the country.
Sachdeva said the denial was on the ground that the visa officer was not satisfied with the interview of the rejected individuals and doubted that they may not return after the completion of the event.
"It is really a shocking incident. Most of the archers are from lower strata and hail from states like Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Most of them are not well versed in english and hence lack in communication. When the visa officer asked them what they do for living, they simply said we are archers and play archery," Sachdeva said.
"This might have raised doubts in the minds of the visa officer, resulting in refusal of visa. But I don't understand why Lim was denied because he is a known figure in world archery and has travelled worldwide," he said, adding that was more shocking was that the visas were denied despite having the Government of India's sanction order and invitation from the US Archery Association.
The AAI also approached the US organisers as well as FITA, archery's world governing body, but to no avail.
"They all tried to help us but with just a weekend in between, the window was too small. It made it impossible for the archers to report for the tournament on time. Hence, we had no option but to withdraw our teams," Kamineni told TOI.
With PTI inputs
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