India’s Union Sports Minister Boycott Asian Games Attendance in China Over Arunachali Athletes’ Visa Dispute with China

Photo: The Hindu

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 25 Sept: India’s Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur cancelled his trip to attend the 19th Asian Games opening ceremony in Hangzhou, China, in protest against Beijing’s refusal to grant accreditation cards to three Arunachali wushu martial athletes, as reported by Indian Express on Saturday.

Accreditation cards serve a dual purpose, functioning both as identification cards for the Asian Games and as visas. According to the report, the three Indian athletes from Arunachal Pradesh were offered stapled visas, which the Indian government does not accept.

In response to this, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) labelled Beijing’s actions as “targeted” and “premeditated” acts of discrimination against athletes from Arunachal Pradesh based on their domicile and ethnicity. The MEA further accused China of violating both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibit discrimination against competitors from member states.

These three athletes, Nyeman Wangsu, Onulu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu, faced a similar issue in July this year when they were unable to participate in the World University Games in Chengdu due to Beijing’s issuance of stapled visas.

In response to India’s protest, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, stated that China welcomes athletes from all countries and reiterated Beijing’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh, stating, “As for the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh,’ the Chinese government does not recognize it. Zangnam (Southern Tibet) is part of China’s territory,” as reported by India Today on Friday.

The Arunachal Pradesh Wushu Association (APWA) condemned Beijing’s actions during a press conference, as reported by Arunachal Times.

Toki Teki, adviser to APWA, stated, “These three athletes have been diligently trained by wushu coach Prem Chandra Singh, and after years of hard work and rigorous training, the girls are now being deprived of their right to participate in such a major sporting event for no fault of theirs.” He added that APWA plans to write to the Indian Prime Minister on the issue and request the government to recognize and grant medal-winner status to these athletes.

China’s persistent claim over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, even including it in officially published maps of China, continues to strain bilateral relations between the two Asian giants. By issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh, China is asserting its claim over the region and challenging India’s sovereignty over its largest northeastern state.

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