Late last night the International Olympic Committee (IOC) put out a statement that came as a relief to both the National Rifle Association of India and the participants in the World Cup alike. Earlier to that, the National Rifle Association of Pakistan had written to the ISSF asking that the quota spots for the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (Men) event be scrapped as that was the only category featuring the two shooters from Pakistan who would be present in India along with their coach.
The Bridge reached out to one of the shooters who was scheduled to arrive in India for the Shooting World Cup. An Olympian in his own right, having represented Pakistan at the Rio 2016 Games in the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event, shooter Ghulam Mustafa Bashir believes that not going to India and having the visas cancelled is more of an official problem, however, he feels that as an athlete his job is to prepare for the next event now.
“Of course we had been training for World Cup since December,” explained Bashir. “Both Khalil Akhtar and I have been training, it is a setback that we can’t compete in India, that is one less opportunity to compete.”
“But now the aim is to be training for the next event. We still have chances for qualifying for the Olympics. Till October in fact,” Bashir added.
“There are events in China, Germany, Brazil and Qatar. So I will be doing my best. I am ranked among the top five in Asia and top 15 in the world, so it is a great responsibility for me. For this event, we did our best in terms of preparations.”
“Us not getting the visas is not in our control. It is about the officials and the associations, how they want to take it up.”
In the past, there have been multiple examples of sport effectively aiding in diplomacy between two nations in disagreement. However, the recent terrorist attack in Pulwama which left over 40 CRPF Jawans dead has deteriorated the ties between India and Pakistan. Fuelled by a media frenzy that called out for boycott of all sports between the two countries, other future instances like the India-Pakistan clash in the cricket world cup are being called out for scrapping and boycotts.
The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) have scrapped 2 quota places from the World Cup being held in New Delhi after the Pakistani shooters were denied the visas to compete in it.
However, Bashir thinks, it is more of an official matter.
“Quotas, I am not aware of that being scraped from New Delhi event or not, I can’t say, that is an official matter too. We need opportunities to compete. I’ve seen there are many amazing shooters competing at the World Cup,” the Olympian said.
The IOC statement in regards to this matter also states that all further talks with India surrounding hosting of Olympic-related events in all future sports have now been suspended till the point India is ready to guarantee that the basic bylaws of the Olympic charter are upheld. In addition to submitting a bid for the 2032 Olympic Games, India is scheduled to host the Men’s Boxing World Championships in 2021 and were in talks to bid for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games.