New Delhi, October 17
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is furious. The Spanish Embassy in New Delhi has refused visas for the majority of Indian wrestlers who were to compete in the U-23 World Championships in Ponteverda, Spain.
Only nine wrestlers and 11 support staff received visas. Antim Panghal, the reigning junior world champion in the women’s 53kg category, was among those denied visas.
Interestingly, the official reason given by the embassy to Antim was “reasonable doubts” for fleeing. “The information provided regarding the justification of the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was unreliable…there are reasonable doubts as to your intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa”, a said the embassy in the rejection letter.
Only one wrestler in the men’s freestyle category, two in the women’s section and six in the Greco-Roman category obtained visas. Greco-Roman wrestlers have already reached Pontevedra.
The WFI had sent all the relevant documents on October 4. However, having heard nothing from the embassy and fearing that the Indian team was running out of time, the WFI contacted the president of the Spanish wrestling federation, who assured that the Indians were likely to see visas issued by today.
“We had written to the Spanish wrestling corps and they assured us that they have taken up the matter with their embassy here in New Delhi. We were expecting it today but they rejected the majority of applications,” said Vinod Tomar , deputy secretary of the WFI.
The WFI filed a complaint with United World Wrestling (UWW). “We wrote to UWW and said that we had been refused visas because of the negative approach of the Spanish Embassy. We also asked them not to award major championships to countries that deny visas,” Tomar said.