'Discriminatory': Anurag Thakur slams China over visa denial to Arunachal athletes for Asian Games
New Delhi/IBNS: Union Minister Anurag Thakur Friday condemned China's denial of visas to three Indian athletes from Arunachal Pradesh and called the move "discriminatory" as well as against the Olympic Charter.
Two athletes, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu were unable to download their accreditation cards, which serve as entry visas to China, despite being cleared by the Hangzhou Asian Games organizing committee.
The third athlete, Nyeman Wangsu, was able to download the accreditation but was then denied entry to China.
As a mark of protest to China's move, Thakur, who is India's Sports Minister, cancelled his visit to China.
Speaking to reporters in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore, Thakur said, "As you could see I am not in China, I am in Coimbatore, standing with my players. And this discriminatory approach of a country which is against the Olympic Charter, is not acceptable at all."
China's move "is not acceptable to India and I have cancelled my trip to China on these grounds as they have denied the opportunity to the players from Arunachal Pradesh to be a part of the Asian Games," he said.
India officially registered a strong protest with China, stating that it has a right to take "suitable measures" to safeguard its interests, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Bagchi accused China of deliberately targeting Indian athletes in a manner that violates both the spirit and the letter of the Asian Games, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member nations.
"The government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and pre-meditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China," Bagchi said in a statement.
"In line with our long-standing and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India," he added.
The latest development comes amid a controversy over China releasing a "standard map" that includes Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory.