India's doubles shuttler Sikki Reddy has made an anguished plea to the Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, stating that she and some other players have not received their passports back from the Canadian High Commission ahead of the Canada Open which begins next month. Due to this, there's a possibility that they may have to miss out on participating in the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier event.
Speaking to Firstpost, Sikki said that they had applied for their Canadian visa 10 days ago but they are yet to get clearance from Canadian High Commission. "We players always have a short timeframe to do the visa work because of back-to-back tournaments. We go every year for the same tournament, so why can't they issue visas for a long time. We applied immediately after we came back from Sudirman Cup on 29 May," Sikki said.
The cramped badminton schedule leaves players racing against the clock to complete visa formalities as they travel to countries for various tournaments each month. The prolonged visa process has been one of the reasons why players are even forced to skip some events.
Frustrated with the delay, Sikki and fellow shuttler HS Prannoy took to Twitter to seek help from Swaraj, who has in the past played good samaritan to other Indians facing visa or passport issues.
— sikkireddy (@sikkireddy) June 7, 2017
The Indonesia Open event will start on Monday, followed by the Australian Open, which starts two days after the Indonesian event concludes. The Canada Open is slated from 11 to 16 July followed by the New Zealand Open Grand Prix Gold in August.
Sikki said she was still holding out hope that their visas will be cleared by Thursday as they are scheduled to leave on Friday.
"Luckily, Indonesia has the visa-on-arrival facility and the visa for Australia was done during the Sudirman Cup which was held there. That's why we got time to apply for Canada or else we would probably have to skip that tournament too."
Unfortunately, even the visa-on-arrival facility will be pointless without their passports.
She added that the four shuttlers are still in limbo about the progress of their application despite tracking it online. "By tomorrow (Thursday) they have to dispatch our passports, only then we can get our passport in our hand by Friday. Or else we have to skip the Indonesia event," she concluded.
Highlighting the razor-thin margins shuttlers have to apply for visas, Sikki said: "After coming back from Australia, we have to sort our New Zealand visa and after that the UK visa for the World Championships (21-27 August) in such a short span."
The 23-year-old doubles specialist stressed on how the process was also time-consuming.
"Some time back, I wanted to play challenger tournaments but there was no time to apply for a visa. I dropped the plan because I can't miss out on some other tournament because of that. Generally, countries don't reject visas to sportspersons, but the only issue is that it takes a lot of time for some countries like UK, Canada, Australia, USA and New Zealand. Moreover, we have to apply ourselves to these countries.
"An agent from Badminton Association of India (BAI) tries his best to get our visas done but it's a hassle for him as well to go to the embassy and request and make calls from high authorities."
Sikki said that the government must help out with the visa process for athletes so that at least their passports and visas are in place without any hiccups. "I think they have to help all Indian sportspersons for visas. Some special category (has to be introduced) at least to give visa in two-three working days. In other countries, sportspersons don't have to spend so much time on visas for so many countries."
The Canada Open will see a big Indian contingent participating. The likes of Parupalli Kashyap, Rituparna Das, Sameer Verma, Prannoy, Attri, Sumeet, Ruthvika Shivani, Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra have registered their entries.
Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 21:42 PM