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IOC suspends event-hosting talks with India

The International Olympic Committee has moved to suspend all event-hosting discussions with the Indian Olympic Association and the national government amid ongoing tension between the country and neighbouring Pakistan.

The IOC has also revoked the Olympic qualification status of the ongoing 25m rapid fire pistol competition in New Delhi after Indian government authorities failed to grant an entry visa to the Pakistani delegation comprising two athletes and one official.

The event, which got underway on Wednesday and runs until February 28, is part of the International Sports Shooting Federation’s (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol.

The visa refusal comes following last week’s terrorist attack in the Indian region of Kashmir, where at least 40 Indian paramilitary troopers were killed. The attack has further inflamed tensions between India and Pakistan.

The two Pakistani athletes had been due to compete in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event, starting tomorrow (Saturday), in which two quota places are available for the Tokyo Games. The IOC said it has taken the decision to revoke the Olympic qualification status of the event in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events in New Delhi.

No solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete, despite what the IOC said were the “intense last-minute joint efforts” from itself, the ISSF and the IOA.

The IOC added that the situation goes against the Olympic Charter’s principles of non-discrimination, as well as the IOC’s and Olympic Movement’s position that equal treatment must be guaranteed for all athletes and delegations, without any political interference from the host country.

With this in mind, the IOC has suspended all discussions with the IOA and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in the country. This is effective until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.

The IOC has also recommended that international federations neither award, nor hold sports events in India until the guarantees are obtained.

The development represents a blow to the IOA’s ambitions to host the Olympics and Paralympics, with the organisation having confirmed in December that it had submitted a formal expression of interest to bid for the 2032 summer Games. India last hosted a major multi-sport event in 2010, when New Delhi staged the Commonwealth Games.

Elsewhere, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is set to request that the International Cricket Council (ICC) ask its members to sever ties with countries that harbour terrorists in light of last week’s attack in Kashmir.

The ESPNcricinfo website reports that a high-level BCCI meeting was held today (Friday), chaired by the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), whose chairman, Vinod Rai, said: “We are telling the cricketing community that in future they must sever ties with nations from which such terror emanates.”

The BCCI had considered calling for a complete ban on Pakistan during this summer’s World Cup in England. When asked whether India would play Pakistan in Manchester on June 16, Rai said a decision would be made at a later date in consultation with the government.