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Pulwama attack: Asian snooker tournament scrapped after India denies visas to Pakistani players

The Asian Tour 10 Reds Snooker tournament, a recently-introduced format in the game, that was scheduled to be held in Bengaluru in March, has been called off with Asian Confederation of Billiard Sport arriving at this conclusion after India refused visas to six Pakistani and Pakistan-origin players, as reported by The Indian Express

 Pulwama attack: Asian snooker tournament scrapped after India denies visas to Pakistani players

Representational Image. Getty Images

As many as 24 players were expected to take part in the tournament, but with doubts over the participation of six of those players, the Asian Billiards body felt it was necessary to shift the competition out of India.

Pakistan had been a force in the earlier two legs of the tournament with Mohammad Bilal winning the individual title in the first leg held in Doha last September. Pakistan had also won the team title, with Babar Masih and Mohammad Asif taking the top honours.

This is the first instance of a tournament being cancelled because the government denied visas to Pakistani athletes.

However, earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), withdrew all Olympic quotas from the ISSF World Cup that's currently ongoing in New Delhi after India denied visas to a three-member Pakistani team of shooters. The refusal to facilitate entries of Pakistani athletes into the country for the tournament also forced the IOC to instruct all sports federations to ‘neither award nor hold’ sports events in India until they receive written assurances from the government that participants from all nations will be guaranteed entry.

Billiards and Snooker Federation of India secretary S Balasubramiam, however, revealed the tournament was shifted even before the IOC statement was released. “In the absence of these players, there was no point in having a tournament so they (Asian Confederation of Billiard Sport) did not want to have it. The decision came much before the IOC issued a statement on Friday,” he said.

India's stringent stance against Pakistan is a reaction to the Pulwama terror attack on 14 February that claimed lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Kashmir. The terror attack — the biggest ever in the state of Jammu and Kashmir — triggered widespread anger among the Indian public with several news organisations demanding stern action against the neighbouring country.

The political tensions have also cast doubts on India's game against Pakistan in the 2019 ICC World Cup on 16 June in Manchester. The BCCI has reportedly written to the ICC to boycott Pakistan — a country India believes sponsors and promotes terrorism — from the World Cup and has urged cricket boards of other nations to isolate Pakistan by severing all cricketing ties with the nation.

The fate of the game will now be decided by the Indian government with BCCI opting to seek directions from the government on the matter.

Despite India's efforts to force a sporting boycott of Pakistan, it remains to be seen if the move can actually have the desired impact and coax Pakistan into curbing terror activities on the soil. Till then, the Indian athletes are going to be handed a raw deal.

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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2019 11:55:18 IST