Asian Athletics Federation of India confirmed that a six-member Pakistan team will take part in the upcoming Asian Athletics Championships that will be held in Bhubaneshwar between July 6 and July 9. According to PTI, AFI Secretary CK Valson said that the athletes have got their visas and they are expected to arrive at Bhubaneshwar in the next two to three days.
“I can confirm that the Pakistani athletes have got the visas. It was a relief for us, we wanted them to take part in the championships,” Valson is quoted as saying by PTI. The participation of the Pakistani contingent at the Asian Championships had remained in doubt with their visas being delayed. AFI President Adille Sumariwalla could not confirm their participation even a week ago. Their participation will be an exception as a series of Pakistan teams across sports have been denied visas to play tournaments in India.
The list of tournaments that Pakistani athletes could not participate in India due to the former not getting visas include the Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi, Asian Snooker Championship in Chennai and even the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow.
In addition to these, India has also refused to play any bilateral cricket series with Pakistan, home or away. Sports Minister Vijay Goel had even gone on record that “terrorism and sports can’t go along and Pakistan should understand that.”
The Pakistan team will reach Amritsar through the Wagah Border from where they will fly to Bhubaneshwar. According to PTI, those who were granted visas are javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem, 400m hurdler Mehboob Ali, his brother Nokar Hussain, Asad Iqbal, Mazhar, Waqar Younis. Syed Fayyaz Hussain and Mohammad Bilal are the two coaches. More than 800 athletes from 45 countries will take part in the event to be held at the renovated Kalinga Stadium, making it the biggest ever Asian Championships. This is the third time India is hosting the Asian Championships after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013). India is fielding a strong 95-member team.