China wants visas for its fighters for the Asian championship in India

NEW DELHI: The Chinese wrestling association ( CWA ) has written to his Indian counterpart, Wrestling Federation of India ( WFI ), requesting to help them obtain visas for their fighters and officers to participate in the Asian wrestling championship , scheduled to take place at the Indira Gandhi indoor stadium here from February 18 to 23.

This request came at a time when India suspended the installation of electronic visa for Chinese citizens in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has claimed several lives.

CWA has informed WFI that all its wrestlers have been tested and quarantined and that none of them has been infected by the virus. The Chinese federation has given WFI the guarantee that all its wrestlers are safe and out of the coronavirus' reach. They want the WFI to facilitate their visa process at the earliest. They also want to visit India at least one week prior to the championship , so that they can train without any problem, a WFI official telling TOI.

But the WFI 's hands are tied. The Indian High Commission in Beijing will decided on this issue, he said and added that it was quite unlikely that the Chinese wrestlers would be granted visas. Their visas have so far not been processed.

The Asian championship will act as a precursor to the qualifier for the Asian Olympic fight, which was scheduled to be held in Xian, China, from March 27 to 29, but had to withdraw. The date and place will be decided later by United World Wrestling (UWW). The stalemate over China's participation has led to a greater sense of unease within the community of Indian struggle.

WFI has written letters to the union ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), informing them about the arrival of a 40-member Chinese contingent (30 men and women freestyle and greco-roman wrestlers and10 delegates) for the meet. A couple of wrestlers are from Wuhan , the epicenter of the virus.

WFI has requested the ministries to allow the Chinese contingent to enter the country only after subjecting their contingent to standard preventive safety measures and proper screening at the Indira Gandhi international airport in Delhi, which will be their entry point. WFI said it did not want to endanger the lives of wrestlers from other participating nations (so far the WFI has received entries from 13 participating nations), including those from India.

Speaking to TOI, some Indian fighters admitted that they were concerned about contacting the virus while competing against Chinese fighters. Wrestling is a contact sport and could be infected through respiratory secretions while fighting near a Chinese opponent.

Pakistan fighters are unlikely to obtain a visa

The participation of Pakistani wrestlers in the event has run into jeopardy with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad yet to process their visa applications. The Pakistan contingent comprises of three men freestyle wrestlers, a technical staff and a delegate. The WFI informed it has written to the high commission but the possibility of granting them visas looks remote. It looks highly unlikely given the current political vibes between the two nations, a federation official said.