Kosovo visa issue may harm India’s Asiad, Olympics plans

The issue of a Kosovar athlete being denied visa to compete at the ongoing AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships rumbles on.

The issue of a Kosovar athlete being denied visa to compete at the ongoing AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships rumbles on. This time, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) even pointed out that “every eligible athlete” should be given entry, and not following this would jeopardise India's chances of hosting events like Asian Games and Olympics.

That may not yet be a threat, but it is a significant development. IOA has had designs for hosting these big-ticket events within the next 15 years. OCA, which conveyed the same through a letter to Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and IOA president Narinder Batra. “This incident has seriously cast a doubt on the eligibility of hosting major international events like Olympics, Asian Games etc, in India,” said the letter, which has been accessed by Express. “IOA are planning to bid for 2030 Asian Games, 2032 Olympics and 2026 Youth Olympic Games. It has come to our attention that the Kosovo athlete was denied a visa to enter India to participate in the Championships.”

Here’s a bit of background. Donjeta Sadiku, a 19-year-old athlete from Kosovo, and two of her coaches were denied visa as India do not recognise their nation. The letter, written by OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, also reiterates that what India did is against Olympic Charter and OCA constitution.

“As per the Olympic Charter and OCA Constitution, it is the duty of the organising committee to provide entry to every eligible athlete participating in a major event without discrimination.” Boxing Federation of India (BFI) officials have already briefed MoEA, but status quo remains. “We briefed them but there has been no update yet,” a high-ranking BFI official told Express on Thursday. IOA head Batra had already urged concerned authorities to separate politics from sports. “Brazil does not recognise Kosovo, but their athletes participated in Rio Olympics. Politics should be kept separate from sport and doing otherwise is against the spirit of the Olympic movement.”