India’s 2032 Olympic Bid At Risk After Visa Dispute With Pakistani Athletes

A proposed 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid by India is in danger after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Friday moved to “suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events.”

IOC President Thomas Bach with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi April 27, 2015 (Twitter/Narendra Modi Photo)

IOC President Thomas Bach with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi April 27, 2015 (Twitter/Narendra Modi Photo)

This decision came after two Pakistani athletes were denied Visas to enter India to compete in Saturday’s (February 23) International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in New Delhi.  The event serves as a Tokyo 2020 qualifier but IOC officials have since revoked that status and will work with the ISSF on how to assign the two available Olympic Games quota that were to be allocated based on the results.

The refusal of the Indian government to grant visas to Pakistan’s Ghulam Mustafa Bashir and Khalil Ahmed, both expected to compete in the 25m rapid fire pistol event, follows increased tensions between the nations after last week’s deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir by a a Pakistani militant group causing the death of 40 members of India’s police force.

India’s high-profile run at the 2032 Olympics follows meetings last year with IOC President Thomas Bach that resulted in a letter-of-interest, and an agenda to also bid for the 2026 Summer Youth Olympic Games and the 2030 Asian Games.  This sports road map could now be at risk.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF and the Indian NOC, and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” the IOC explained in a statement.

“This situation goes against the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter, in particular the principles of non-discrimination, as well as the IOC’s and the Olympic Movement’s position, reiterated on many occasions over the past few years, that equal treatment must be guaranteed for all participating athletes and sporting delegations at international sports events, without any form of discrimination or political interference from the host country.”

The suspension will continue until “clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter – and to recommend that the IFs neither award to nor hold sports events in India until the above-mentioned guarantees are obtained.”

India Files Historic Letter Of Interest With IOC To Host 2032 Olympic Games

Indian sports officials have declared the incident a major setback for sports in the country and are urging the government to reconsider the visa decision.

IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta told Reusters “In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events.”

“We will approach the government again so that the situation does not reach that far.

“It is a violation of Olympic Charter and the country’s image has been lowered. If the Indian government does not give guarantees within 15 to 20 days, another letter may come from IOC.”

The IOC isn’t expected to open the 2032 bid process until 2023, with a final decision due in 2025 – but several cities have already expressed interest and have entered discussions with IOC officials.  IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi last year declared the dialogue stage opened.

India has never hosted an Olympic Games.

Cities and countries that have expressed interest in bidding for the 2032 Games include Jakarta in Indonesia, Brisbane in Australia, Shanghai in China, Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as Germany and Russia.  Discussions around a joint North and South Korean bid have also caught the attention of the IOC.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.