Published: November 16, 2018 9:03:30 pm
The world boxing body on Friday threatened to withdraw the 2021 men’s World Championships from India after the government refused to grant visa to Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku to participate in the ongoing women’s World Championships here.
The Indian government does not recognise Kosovo – a disputed territory in South Eastern Europe — and so Sadiku, who was to take part in 60kg, was denied visa. This was second such incident for Sadiku, who was also denied visa during women’s World Youth Championships in Guwahati last year.
“We are deeply concerned by this situation. Any boxer shouldn’t be affected by any political decision while trying to achieve the dream of competing at the international level. Politics and sports should in no way be mixed,” International Boxing Federation (AIBA) president Gafur Rahimov said in a statement.
“We appreciate the efforts made by the Boxing Federation of India, but AIBA will need to reconsider the 2021 Men’s World Championships bid. This being said, we wish to reiterate our sincere apologize to Donjeta Sadiku and the boxing family of Kosovo,” he added.
The AIBA said it will explore the possibility of re-opening the bidding process for the 2012 Men’s World Championships after the Government of India couldn’t find a solution to Sadiku’s participation.
“AIBA will study the appropriate actions needed to be considered to ensure that this situation never happens again, including the possibility to re-open the bidding process for the AIBA 2021 Men’s World Boxing Championships due to take place in India,” the world body said.
“It is indeed extremely disappointing to note that the Government of India could not find any satisfactory solution for the young athlete Donjeta Sadiku and the delegation from Kosovo despite the joint efforts made by AIBA and the Boxing Federation of India over the past weeks, days and hours to clear the status of their Entry Visas.
“When awarding the hosting of an AIBA event, one of the International Boxing Association primary requirements is the capability of guarantee that all eligible athletes and delegations could participate, without any discrimination and beyond any political consideration,” the statement said.
AIBA executive director Tom Virgets said that an official decision to re-open bidding process for the 2021 Men’s World Championships will be taken in the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in January.
“We are very serious about this issue but there is a small window of time for finding a solution in this issue. There is no time frame as such when India can find out a solution to this and say it will allow athletes from Kosovo to take part in international events held in this country.
“The AIBA will take a decision on the re-opening of the bidding process of 2021 men’s World Championships in its executive committee meeting in January. So, I think the time till that meeting can be an appropriate time for India to solve this issue,” he said, adding that 2019 men’s World Championships was given to Sochi instead of Ukraine due to the same issue of non-recognition of Kosovo by the latter.
Virgets reminded that the same issue had happened last year during the Women World Youth Championships in Guwahati and it is high time that India find a solution to this if it wants to host big international events.
“Boxing in India is growing by leaps and bounds and it will only grow and we want to go hand in hand with the Indian federation. But if India loses these kinds of events, it is the loss of India.”
Boxing Federation of India (BFI) said it will pursue the government to separate sports from political considerations and find a solution to this.
“Any international federation would not be happy of an athlete is not allowed participation in these situations and the government’s decision was also a sovereign issue,” BFI president Ajay Singh said.
“We will continue to persuade the government that it is possible to separate the sporting issue from the political one and many countries have allowed athletes of countries which they did not recognise politically.
“The time was also short and we could not convince the government. In the coming days we will take up this issue with the government and we are hoping to find a solution soon. We are hopeful the men’s World Championships will be held in India in 2021.”
The Indian Olympic Association also chipped in and wrote letters to the Ministry of External Affairs on November 1 and Sports Ministry on November 14.
“The MEA is still not been able to separate sports from politics. But that is the main objective of the IOC Charter.”
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