Asian Games: Arunachal's wushu players unable to travel to China
Despite being granted accreditation, the three athletes were the only ones in their team who couldn't download their travel documents
Three wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh have not been able to travel to Hangzhou, China for the Asian Games in absence of clearance by the Chinese authorities.
The three women players - Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu -- did receive their accreditation cards from Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC) which also acts as an entry visa. The athletes are then required to download their travel document which is validated upon arrival.
However, the three players from Arunachal could not download their travel document on Wednesday when they were scheduled to travel for the Asian Games. The rest of the wushu squad -- comprising a total 10 players -- along with the coaching staff faced no such issues and boarded the flight for Hong Kong on Wednesday night, from where they had a connecting flight to Hangzhou.
"Once the athletes received the accreditation cards from the organising committee, it meant that they have been cleared to travel for the Asian Games. But surprisingly only these three players could not download their document and they could not board the flight," said an official.
This is second instance in two months that the three players were unable to visit China for a competition.
"The matter is more complicated than last time and the government is expected to respond tomorrow," said people familiar with the matter.
In the last week of July, the same players could not compete at the World University Games in Chengdu, China (July 18-Aug 8) because they were given stapled visas by China. Stapled visas are meant to indicate that China doesn’t recognise India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. India has consistently rejected China’s claim that the northeastern state is disputed territory. The eight-member wushu team had then withdrawn from the event in Chengdu in protest.
On Thursday, India's Chef-de-mission for the Asian Games Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, who is also the president of Wushu Association of India (WAI), took up the matter with the HAGOC and the Olympic Council of Asia. WAI has also written to the Asian and world body over the denial of "valid accreditation cards" to the three players.
"There has been no response yet from the organisers and the OCA," said another official.
The wushu competitions starts on September 24 and the players are still hoping that they can make it in the next two days. It was learnt that the three players met cabinet minister Kiren Rijiju and requested him to look into the issue.
"They will lose an opportunity of lifetime if they cannot compete. They have already missed a big event in World University Games. They have requested Mr Rijiju that India should lodge a strong protest and if necessary, boycott the opening ceremony in protest if they are not given permission to travel," said a wushu coach in the know of things.
China began the practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh in the mid-2000s and it extended the practice to residents of Jammu & Kashmir in 2009. During a visit to India in 2014, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi contended that stapled visas do “not undermine or compromise our respective positions on the border question”.
In response to these practices, India stopped referring to the “one China” policy in official documents more than a decade ago.