The Men’s World Boxing Championship scheduled to be held at New Delhi in 2021, could become the biggest hosting casualty after the IOC rap on India for denying visas to Pakistani pistol shooters. “The International Boxing Association (AIBA) fully supports the IOC’s decision and will not allow any AIBA competition (or) activities to take place in India if that excludes any country from competing in the event,” the AIBA communications department said in response to a query from The Indian Express.
Having taken this stand, the AIBA asserted that it will move towards finding a new host for the 2021 men’s senior Worlds which was allotted to India in 2017. This would have been the first time India was granted the hosting rights to the senior men’s event.
“AIBA will study the possibility to re-open the bidding process for the AIBA 2021 Men’s World Boxing Championships due to take place in India, if the participation of all eligible athletes and delegations is not guaranteed,” the AIBA added.
Days after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared its recommendation for all international sports federations to cease holding ‘Olympic-related’ events in India, amateur boxing’s governing body announced its support for IOC-imposed sanctions that will see India losing hosting rights for all senior and age-group events in a gamut of disciplines.
Crucially, not granting visas to the Pakistani delegation was the second instance the Indian government refused entry to athletes for a global event in four months.
In November, Donjeta Sadiku of Kosovo was denied a visa to compete at the New Delhi-held AIBA Women’s World Championship since her country is not officially recognised by the Indian government. The AIBA had stated at the time that it would consider revoking India’s hosting rights for the 2021 Men’s World Championship – a tournament awarded to India to host in 2017 – as a consequence.
IOC had taken note of this omission. In a letter to ISSF president Vladimir Lisin, IOC sports director Kit McConnell wrote: “The IOC noted that it was not the first time that such incidents of challenges of entry of international sports delegations have happened in India; the latest of which was the women’s boxing team from Kosovo not being able to attend the Women’s World Championships in November 2018.”
Now that the IOC itself has made the recommendation to find a new host for future events, the AIBA is set to comply.
The sanctions against India hosting future international events stems from the Indian government’s refusal to grant a three-member Pakistan shooting team – which included a manager and two shooters in the men’s 25m rapid fire event – visas to compete in the on-going ISSF New Delhi World Cup. This decision was made after political ties between the two countries grew tense in the wake of the terrorist attack in Pulwama that led to the death of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
The National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) subsequently approached the IOC, who then issued the recommendations that the 25m rapid fire event would grant no Olympic quotas, and that international federations should not consider India as a host until the government provides written assurances to grant entry to all participants.
“The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India, 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 – and to recommend that the IFs neither award to nor hold sports events in India until the above-mentioned guarantees are obtained,” said the IOC in a statement issued last Thursday.