Three female wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh — Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu — were not able to fly out with other members of the contingent that arrived in Hangzhou on Thursday morning.
The trio faced issues in getting their accreditation validated and were reportedly issued stapled visas.
The accreditation card acts as the visa for accredited athletes and personnel in order to travel to China for the Asian Games.
The Government of India on Friday took a stern note of the development and reacted strongly in response, calling it a “deliberate and selective obstruction”.
Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement on microblogging website ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), – “The Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and premeditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
“In line with our longstanding and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India.
“A strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons. China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states.
The statement added that Sports Minister Anurag Thakur will now not travel to China.
“Further, as a mark of our protest against the Chinese action, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports of India has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games. The Government of India reserves the right to take suitable measures to safeguard our interests.”
Hours before this development in India, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC) were questioned about the issue at a press conference at the Games’ Main Media Centre.
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Replying to the question, OCA’s honorary life vice-president Wei Jizhong claimed that the athletes were granted Chinese visas but that they “did not accept” it.
“China didn’t refuse any visa but the problem is that according to Chinese government regulations, we have the right to give them different kinds of visas. We have an arrival visa, a paper visa, visa on the passport,” said Jizhong, who had the acting OCA president, Randhir Singh, sitting beside him.
“I am making it very clear. The Chinese government, that means the embassy, gave them (wushu athletes) visas. They can enter China, but unfortunately these athletes didn’t accept this visa. I don’t think this is an OCA problem,” Jizhong added.
The wushu competitions will run from September 24 to 28 at the Guali Cultural & Sports Centre in the Xiaoshan district.