Livid after 21 members of its 31-strong team were denied US visas, the Archery Association of India (AAI) today decided to withdraw from the World Youth Archery Championships in that country as a mark of protest.
Apart from the archers, India's well-travelled Korean coach Chae Wom Lim was also refused visa by the US embassy here for the championship in Yankton, South Dakota. "We have decided to withdraw the team from this tournament as a mark of protest. This was decided by AAI President Vijay Kumar Malhotra even though we had reapplied for visas," Archery Association of India treasurer Virender Sachdeva told PTI.
The Indian contingent, comprising Under-20 boys and girls, was scheduled to leave for the US tomorrow for the June 8-14 event.
But the US embassy here granted visa to only seven archers, two coaches and a Sports Authority of India official while rejecting 21, thereby putting serious doubts over India's participation in the event.
Besides Lim, three Indian coaches Mim Bahadur Gurung, Chandra Shekhar Laguri, Ram Awdesh and masseuse Pinki were also denied visa.
Sachdeva said the denial was on the ground that the visa officer was not satisfied with the interview of the rejected individuals and doubted that they may not return after the completion of the event.
"It is really a shocking incident. Most of the archers are from lower strata and hail from states like Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Most of them are not well versed in english and hence lack in communication. When the visa officer asked them what they do for living, they simply said we are archers and play archery," Sachdeva said.
"This might have raised doubts in the minds of the visa officer, resulting in refusal of visa. But I don't understand why Lim was denied because he is a known figure in world archery and has travelled worldwide," he added.
Sachdeva said what was more shocking was that the visas were denied despite having the Government of India's sanction order and invitation from the US Archery Association.
He said the AAI approached the Ministry of External Affairs and the Sports Ministry on this issue but to no avail.