IWF cries foul after being denied visa by two countries

As two countries denied visa to Indian teams in the last two days, the Indian Weightlifting Federation on Thursday cried foul and lodged protest.

updated: December 04, 2008 14:09 IST
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New Delhi:

As two countries denied visa to Indian teams in the last two days, the Indian Weightlifting Federation on Thursday cried foul and lodged protest with the respective governing bodies of the game for "denying right to participate".

The senior and junior Indian teams for the December 5-7 Commonwealth Championships were denied visa by the Cyprus consulate owing to "procedural lapse" according to the IWF.

The tour of Korea for Junior and Youth Asian Championships - slated from December 3-5 - had to be scrapped on Wednesday due to same reason.

IWF General Secretary BR Gulati said they have lodged a "formal protest" with the host federations, Commonwealth and the Asian Federations for the "unforgiving experience".

"We are convinced that we have been treated unfairly and denied our right of participation entirely due to a very different approach by the host organisation," he said in his protest letter to the Asian Weightlifting Federation and the Korean Federation.

"We have been repeatedly insulted and humiliated at the Embassy in New Delhi, doubting the credentials of our lifters and team/technical officials.

"The championships being of Youth and Juniors, most of the participants from India were naturally young people, not necessarily with any previous International exposure.

"Their passports were naturally new and not endorsed for any previous trip abroad. The profession for these young people cannot be anything but student," he said.

Gulati also demanded compensation for the expenses incurred on the training and logistic arrangements from the federations-concerned.

"We are now saddled with reimbursement of their claims on air travel, accommodation at Delhi and other out of pocket expenses," Gulati wrote and added "we expect this matter to be discussed in the ensuing Executive Committee and General Body Meeting... as our formal protest and demand for compensation".

The IWF General Secretary said it was a great loss to those who had the two championships as their last chance to compete in the juniors.

"There were many of the team members who have lost the life time opportunity to compete in the junior category," Gulati said.

Asked what could be the reason for two countries denying visas at the same time, the Squadron Leader with the Indian Air Force said there were afraid of illegal immigrations. "It's just a co-incidence (that the two countries denied visas at the same time for similar problems.

"Cyprus is a springboard for illegal immigration to countries like Italy and Greece. Korea also was apprehensive about similar problem," he said while categorically denying that last week's terror attack in Mumbai had any bearing on the unpleasant development.

The IWF had on Wednesday cited procedural lapses for delay in procuring visas to the two countries.

"There was some communication problem between Cyprus Ministry and its Consulate here due to which this situation cropped up," he had said.

However, sources within the IWF felt it was sheer laxity on the part of Gulati, who has never been a weightlifter, and IWF President Harbhajan Singh.