Indian wrestlers denied visas for U-23 World championships after Spanish Embassy doubts they might overstay | More sports News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The U-23 World Wrestling Championships has always been a happy hunting ground for Indian grapplers. But this time, the country’s top wrestlers will miss the tournament as the Embassy of Spain here denied them visas for the October 17-23 tournament being held in Pontevedra. A senior embassy official said in the mail they have doubts over “the purpose and conditions of their intended stay” in the north-western Spanish city.
This is the first time in the competition’s six-year history that the Indian team won’t feature in the prestigious meet, which attracts a world-class field. At the 2021 edition of the tournament in Belgrade, Indian wrestlers had secured an impressive five medals, including Shivani Pawar‘s historic silver in the women’s 50kg class, to cap the country’s most successful outing at the event since its inaugural edition in 2017.
A 45-member Indian contingent, including 30 wrestlers in the men’s and women’s freestyle and greco-roman categories, was selected by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for the Worlds. Some top names included women’s 53kg wrestler Antim Panghal, India’s first-ever U-20 world champion in wrestling, world cadet champion Sagar Jaglan (men’s 74kg), Asian cadet bronze medallist Reetika Hooda (women’s 72kg) and junior Worlds silver medallist Bhateri (women’s 65kg), among others.
According to WFI’s assistant secretary Vinod Tomar, their applications for Schengen visa were submitted to the embassy on October 4 in the ‘normal’ category and the tickets were booked accordingly for their departure on October 16. However, the embassy informed them about the cancellation of their visa forms – except for nine wrestlers who have already left for the event – because they might overstay in Pontevedra.
The WFI shared the visa application of Antim, who was denied visa on a frivolous ground. “The Embassy of Spain in New Delhi has examined your application and the visa has been refused. The decision is based on the following reasons: the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable. There are reasonable doubts as to your intention to leave the territory of the Member State before the expiry of the visa,” read her application, signed by Helena Escorial López, Head of the Consular Section at the Embassy of Spain in India.
Speaking to TOI, Tomar said the embassy wanted them to apply for visas availing the ‘premium lounge services’ which would have made the entire trip “abnormally expensive”. “This is nothing but high-handedness on the part of the embassy. We will not send our wrestling teams to Spain ever in the future. We will be writing to the United World Wrestling (wrestling’s world governing body), requesting them not to grant any major international tournament to the Spanish wrestling federation. We will lodge an official complaint with the UWW for the embarrassment the Indian wrestlers have been made to go through,” Tomar said.
“They wanted us to apply through their premium lounge services. But why should we? This is not the first time that the Indian team is travelling on the Schengen visa. There are several wrestlers in the U23 Worlds-bound team with multiple Schengen visas. Why have they not been allowed for the tournament? The embassy doubted our wrestlers’ intention that they might overstay and not return from Spain. This is a joke. Had this been the case, they wouldn’t have come back on earlier occasions as well,” he added.
Tomar said out of the 45-member contingent, only nine wrestlers have travelled to the Worlds with no one from the coaching or support staff with them. “Aman Sehrawat (men’s 57kg), Ankush Panghal (women’s 50kg) and Mansi Ahlawat (women’s 59kg) and six greco-roman wrestlers will take part. The rest will miss out on a great opportunity to become world champions,” he added.

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