By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) A decision on granting visa to the lone Pakistani skeet shooter, Usman Chand, desiring to compete in this month’s New Delhi World Cup may come by the end of Friday.
National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) secretary general Razi Ahmed Khan said on Friday that the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had sent a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the NRAP on Wednesday and that the same was submitted to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Thursday.
“We are expecting to get the visa on Friday. We had submitted the visa application form with the Indian High Commission last month so that there was no last-minute rush,” Khan told IANS from Pakistan on Friday.
The New Delhi World Cup, to be held from March 18 to 29 at the Karni Singh Shooting Ranges here, offers valuable ranking points for rifle and pistol events, but not for shotgun competition.
The issue of the Pakistani shooter competing at the World Cup could be a tricky one, considering what happened exactly two years ago.
For the 2019 shooting World Cup in New Delhi, India had not granted visas to two Pakistani shooters who wanted to compete in the men’s 25m rapid fire event. After Pakistan complained to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC withdrew qualification status for the 2020 Olympic Games from the World Cup in that event. The Olympics was later postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events who are already in India for their competition,” the IOC had said in a statement at the time, after a decision to this effect was taken at its executive board meeting in Lausanne.
Around 300 competitors from 42 countries have expressed their desire to compete at this month’s New Delhi World Cup. The process of issuing the visa to Chand, a 36-year-old shotgun exponent, is underway, said an NRAI official.
“The visa process is on. We hope he would get necessary documents to travel to India for the World Cup,” the official told IANS.
Chand, who has a personal-best score of 122 out of 150, is the lone shooter entered by the NRAP for the World Cup. His current world ranking is 108 as per International Shooting Sport Federation. Chand, who finished fifth at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, has been active on the global circuit since 2013.
The Pakistani skeet shooter expressed his desire to compete in India, as he missed out on the Egypt shotgun World Cup, held from February 22 to March 5. Despite the Cairo World Cup carrying global ranking points, the Pakistan shooter’s name was missing from the field.
When asked why Chand didn’t compete in the Cairo World Cup, Khan said: “He has a good chance to earn valuable points to improve his world ranking. He is a contender for individual quota. So, he wants to compete in New Delhi World Cup.”
The NRAI will have to safeguard shooters and officials’ health in times of the pandemic during the 10-day World Cup.
“All the shooters will have to follow strict bio-bubble guidelines during the World Cup,” said the NRAI official.