In a turn of events, the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, have been marred by allegations of discrimination against Indian sportspersons based on their domicile and ethnicity. The Official Spokesperson, Shri Arindam Bagchi, representing the Government of India, confirmed that Chinese authorities have intentionally denied accreditation and entry to some Indian athletes from the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
This incident follows a concerning trend of bias against Indian athletes from Arunachal Pradesh, where three players, Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu, found themselves at the receiving end of such discrimination.
Despite being issued accreditation cards by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC), which also act as entry visas for the event, they encountered technical issues while attempting to download their travel documents. Consequently, they were unable to board their scheduled flight, while the rest of the Indian wushu squad, comprising ten players and coaching staff, faced no such hindrances.
This isn’t the first time these athletes have faced such challenges when seeking to compete in China. Just two months ago, they were prevented from participating in the World University Games in Chengdu after being issued stapled visas by China, a practice symbolizing China’s refusal to acknowledge India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. India has steadfastly maintained its position that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of its territory.
India’s Chef-de-mission for the Asian Games, Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, who also serves as the president of the Wushu Association of India (WAI), has raised this issue with HAGOC and the Olympic Council of Asia. The WAI has also reached out to relevant Asian and global sporting bodies concerning the denial of “valid accreditation cards” to these athletes. Regrettably, no response has been received from the organizers or the Olympic Council of Asia thus far.
With the wushu competitions scheduled to commence on September 24, there remains hope that the affected athletes can still participate. In their bid for resolution, they have sought the intervention of cabinet minister Kiren Rijiju, urging strong protests and, if necessary, the possibility of boycotting the opening ceremony should they not be granted permission to travel.
China’s practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh dates back to the mid-2000s, with the practice extended to residents of Jammu & Kashmir in 2009. Despite China’s assertions that these visas do not compromise its positions on border disputes, India ceased referring to the “one China” policy in official documents more than a decade ago.
In response to these recent developments, the Government of India has expressed strong objections to China’s actions and discrimination against Indian citizens. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports of India has canceled his scheduled visit to China for the Games as a mark of protest.
This gesture underscores India’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding its interests and opposing any form of discrimination based on domicile or ethnicity. These events underscore the growing diplomatic tensions between the two nations, casting a shadow over the otherwise celebratory atmosphere of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.
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