U-23 World Championship: 21 Indian wrestlers denied visa by Spanish Embassy and will miss tournament

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21 Indian wrestlers are set to miss the ongoing Under-23 World Championships in Pontevedra after being denied visas by the Spanish Embassy. The denial came on the suspicion that the wrestlers would not leave the territory before their visas expired.

New Delhi,UPDATED: October 17, 2022 11:35 PM IST

Spanish embassy denies visas to 21 Indian wrestlers ahead of U-23 world championships (Reuters)

By India Today Web Desk: 21 Indian wrestlers are set to miss the ongoing Under-23 World Championships in Pontevedra after being denied visas by the Spanish Embassy. The denial came on the suspicion that the wrestlers would not leave the territory before their visas expired.

The Indian Wrestling Federation had chosen a 30-member squad for the Under-23 Championship, but only nine got visas. Antim Panghal, who is India’s first-ever under-20 world champion, was among those denied entry. Of the nine coaches who applied for the visa, only six were granted access.

WFI Deputy Secretary Vinod Tomar was furious with the decision and said their visas were denied on frivolous grounds.

“This is something we have never faced before. Despite presenting clearance from the Indian government and an invitation from world governing body UWW, our wrestlers have been denied visas on the most frivolous,” Tomar said.

The assistant secretary said he did not understand why the officers believed the wrestlers and coaches would not return to India.

“We received the denial letters tonight (Monday) after asking for the passports to be issued as soon as possible. It’s really weird. I really don’t know how the officer came to the conclusion that the wrestlers and coaches wouldn’t come back to India,” Tomar added.

Tomar also insisted that Indian wrestlers have been denied the opportunity to shine on the world stage by the Spanish Embassy.

“Our wrestlers are serious medal contenders, they have been denied the opportunity to shine on the big stage,” Tomar said.

Greco-Roman team head coach and Dronacharya award winner Mahabir Prasad has called for a ban on Spain, recounting when United World Wrestling asked India to allow Pakistani wrestlers to the Asian championship in 2019.

“Spain should be fined and banned. This has already created a huge problem in the championship. It’s a shame for Spain as a country. Our wrestlers only lost one opportunity, but the “Spain lost face. UWW said they would ban India if Pakistan were to deny entry to the Asian Championship in New Delhi. Now it was at Asian level and now it’s at world level. We will see what UWW does now,” Prasad said.

The World Under-23 Wrestling Championship kicked off today and will run until October 23.

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