21 Indian wrestlers are set to miss out on the ongoing Under-23 World Championships in Pontevedra after being denied visas by Spain’s embassy. The rejection came on the suspicion that the wrestlers would not leave the territory before the expiry of their visas.
Spain embassy denies visas to 21 Indian wrestlers ahead of U-23 World championships (Reuters)
By India Today Web Desk: 21 Indian wrestlers are set to miss out on the ongoing Under-23 World Championships in Pontevedra after being denied visas by Spain’s embassy. The rejection came on the suspicion that the wrestlers would not leave the territory before the expiry of their visas.
The Wrestling Federation of India had picked a 30-member squad for the Under-23 Championship but only nine were granted visas. Antim Panghal, who is India’s first-ever under-20 woman world champion, was among those who were denied entry. Out of the nine coaches that applied for the visa, only six were granted access.
WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar was furious with the decision and said their visas were denied on frivolous grounds.
“This is something we have never faced before. Despite presenting the Indian government’s clearance and an invitation from the world governing body UWW, our wrestlers have been denied visas on the most frivolous ground,” said Tomar.
The assistant secretary said he was confused as to why the officers would think the wrestlers and coaches wouldn’t come back to India.
“We got the rejection letters this evening (Monday) after we made a request to release the passports as soon as possible. This is really bizarre. I really don’t know how the officer came to the conclusion that wrestlers and coaches won’t come back to India,” Tomar added.
Tomar also insisted that the Indian wrestlers were denied an opportunity to shine on the global stage by the Spanish embassy.
“Our wrestlers are strong medal contenders, they have denied them the opportunity to shine on the big stage,” said Tomar.
The chief coach of the Greco-Roman squad and Dronacharya awardee, Mahabir Prasad called for Spain’s ban, recounting when United World Wrestling asked for India to allow Pakistani wrestlers for the Asian Championship in 2019.
“Spain should be fined and banned. It has already created a huge issue at the Championship. It’s a matter of shame for Spain as a country. Our wrestlers lost just an opportunity but Spain has lost face. UWW had said it would ban India if Pakistan were to deny entry for Asian championship in New Delhi. Now that was at Asian level and now this is at the world level. We will see what UWW does now,” said Prasad.
The Under-23 Wrestling World Championship kicked-off today and will continue till October 23.