The 2019 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup is the Annual edition of the ISSF World Cup series that will also act as qualifying tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and is scheduled from 20-28 February, 2019 at New Delhi, India. 16 Quota Places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are being contested for. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Bashir and Mr. Muhammad Khalil Akhtar, were to contest in the category of 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and were part of the team for whom the visas had been applied for, from the Indian Embassy in Pakistan. Despite the fact that the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) had completed all the formalities well in time (more than sixty days in advance as stipulated in the policy/instructions), till 21 Feb 2019 they had not been issued the visa. Later in the day it has been learnt that their passports have been returned without the issuance of the visa. The NRAP had been constantly reminding the Organising Committee and ISSF of the delay in the non-issuance of the visa. POA in the meanwhile also took up the issue with the IOC and supported the stance of NRAP for the withdrawal of the quota places in which the Team Pakistan was participating as they had been denied their right of participation.
It is important to understand that the hosts, once they have been allocated an event are responsible to ensure that the all participants are facilitated in all respects, specially the issue of visa. The IOC policy is very clear on the allocation of international sports events and the rights of the Athletes to compete without any discrimination. This has, as recently as Dec 2018, been reiterated by the IOC in its communiqué of the 7th Olympic Summit of 8 Dec 2018:-
“The Summit agreed that the allocation of International sports events to a country must include the necessary guarantees to ensure equal treatment for the participating athletes and sporting delegations, without any form of discrimination or political interference from the host country. This is in accordance with the basic principles of non-discrimination and autonomy which govern the Olympic Movement and which are recognised by various UN General Assembly resolutions, most recently that of 3 December 2018”
We were very disappointed once our athletes were not allowed to participate for an event for which they had been preparing for a very long time. We have always been of the view that sports must be used as a means to build bridges between communities and countries. It can and must be used for the promotion of peace and not otherwise. Greatly disappointed we had no option left but to refer the matter to the IOC. As a consequence, the IOC Executive Board took a very prudent and balanced decision whereby they withdrew the recognition of the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol competition in which the Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate and asked the ISSF to make a proposal on how the two available quota places will now be reassigned.
We are very grateful to the IOC for this very well considered decision whereby the right of athletes to participate without any let or hindrance has been upheld. We are also grateful to them for institution of steps to participate subsequently and try to qualify for the two quota places.