Asian Games 2023: China official defends issuing stapled visas to Arunachal wushu players
India's minister of youth affairs and sport Anurag Singh Thakur said he has cancelled his visit to Asian Games opening ceremony in protest against the alleged discrimination by the Chinese government
As the Indian government reacted strongly to China issuing stapled visas instead of proper accreditation to three wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh, a senior Olympic official from China defended his country, saying it has the right to give different visas to different people.
A stapled visa is an unstamped piece of paper attached to a passport with staples or a pin. Unlike regular visas that are affixed and stamped directly on to the passport, stapled visas can be torn off or detached, and their issuance has been part of China's ongoing territorial dispute with India over Arunachal Pradesh.
Jizhong Wei, a member of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) coordination commission and honorary life vice-president of the OCA, claimed the three wushu players were not denied visas but given different types of visas, which they refused to accept.
"The players were not denied a visa, they were given a different kind of visa which they refused to take because of which they could not fly out to China. The Chinese government has the right to give different visas to different people," he claimed during a press conference in Hangzhou, the venue for the 2023 Asian Games, on Friday.
The three female wushu (a martial art form) players — Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu — from Arunachal Pradesh were scheduled to fly out to China on Wednesday from Delhi, but could not take the flight as two of them were given stapled visas by Chinese authorities after first being denied accreditation by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC).
The Indian government refused to accept the stapled visas and the two players could not take the flight. One player, who was given the accreditation, was told at the airport that her visa was only to Hong Kong and therefore she, too, could not board the flight.
In a strong response, India's minister of youth affairs and sport Anurag Singh Thakur announced that he has cancelled his visit to Hangzhou to represent the government during the opening ceremony in protest against the alleged discrimination by the Chinese government.
OCA acting president Randhir Singh and acting director-general Vinod Kumar Tiwari, both Indians, sat alongside Jizhong Wei when he made his comment about the Chinese government's prerogative to issue different kinds of visas to different athletes.
Tiwari said they discussed the matter with HAGOC after being informed about it on Thursday night. "This matter was brought to our notice on Thursday night and we have raised it with HAGOC. They have taken it up with the Chinese government," he said.
Singh said the matter was discussed during the meeting of the OCA working group in Hangzhou and they are actively pursuing the matter with the organising committee of the Asian Games.
Now that the matter has blown into a full-fledged diplomatic row between the two governments, the OCA seems to have washed its hands off it. Its officials were not available for comment on the Indian government's strong response to the snub by the Chinese authorities.