Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has called off his trip to the Asian Games in protest of China’s refusal to grant entry to Indian Wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh. This decision has come amidst an official protest by the Indian government against China’s discriminatory treatment of these athletes.
Denial of Entry Despite Valid Accreditation:
- Three players, Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu, were denied entry into China despite possessing valid e-accreditations from the event organizers.
- Ms. Wangsu couldn’t board her flight, while the other two were allowed to travel only up to Hong Kong. This casts doubt on their participation in the event scheduled for Sunday.
Surprise and Strong Action:
- The Indian government expressed surprise at China’s treatment of the Arunachal Pradesh athletes, considering their valid accreditation.
- Minister Anurag Thakur was originally scheduled to attend the Asian Games inauguration by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou but decided to cancel the visit upon learning of the athletes’ situation.
- India lodged official protests with Beijing in response.
Accreditation Cards as Visas:
- The Asian Games protocol stipulated that accreditation cards served as visas for entry into China, rather than visas on athletes’ passports.
- It is believed that an “oversight” by Chinese sporting officials led to this situation.
Targeted Discrimination and Indian Protest:
- The Indian Ministry of External Affairs accused China of “targeted and pre-meditated” discrimination against Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh.
- India firmly rejected differential treatment based on domicile or ethnicity.
- As a mark of protest, Minister Anurag Thakur canceled his visit to China for the Games.
- The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Games organizing committee welcomed the Indian contingent into the Athletes’ Village but refrained from commenting on the Arunachal Pradesh athletes’ issue.
- The OCA pledged to work towards a swift solution to the problem and was discussing it with the government.
- Wei Jizhong, honorary life vice-president of the OCA executive board, claimed that China had issued visas, but the Indian athletes had not accepted them.
- The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that they have never recognized Arunachal Pradesh as a separate entity.
- In a previous case in July, members of the Wushu team from Arunachal Pradesh were given “stapled visas” for the World University Games, which India deemed unacceptable.
- In February 2022, India announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing due to China’s decision to include a People’s Liberation Army soldier in the event.