HANGZHOU (Reuters): The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Asian Games organisers are examining the issue of three Indian athletes unable to join the games in China due to a visa problem, acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh said on Sunday.
“OCA is looking into it, definitely,” as well as organisers and the government, Singh told a press conference in the eastern Chinese host city, Hangzhou. “Since it’s a diplomatic issue, they’re looking into it. And hopefully, let’s see, (whether) something good comes out of it.”
The three wushu fighters from the state of Arunachal Pradesh were issued stapled visas instead of stamped ones, India’s foreign ministry said. India does not accept stapled visas as valid.
Wei Jizhong, chairman of the OCA’s ethics committee, told reporters last week that China did not refuse entry to the athletes.
The practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper has been seen as China’s way of questioning India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, a region near the China-India border that Beijing claims as part of Tibet.
New Delhi vociferously rejects the claim, saying Arunachal Pradesh has always been part of India.
Beijing and New Delhi fought a war over the disputed Himalayan frontier in 1962 and have been uneasy neighbours ever since. Relations nosedived in 2020 over a border clash in which 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed.
At the Asian Games, delayed by a year due to COVID-19, some 12,400 athletes from 45 nations are competing for 481 gold medals across a huge programme of 40 sports.