NRAI open to host Pak shooters, NRAP gets cagey

Updated on : Feb 20,2019   7:56 pm

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Hours after the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) put the ball in Pakistan's court, saying there is no hindrance from the Indian side on their participation, the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) on Wednesday wrote to the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) to drop the Tokyo Olympic quota places on offer in the 25m rapid fire pistol event from the New Delhi World Cup, starting on Saturday.

With the NRAP still maintaining that the two Pakistan shooters in the 25m rapid fire pistol -- G.M. Bashir and Khalil Ahmed -- were denied visas, it requested the ISSF to drop the quota places and instead get those in the next ISSF World Cup in Beijing.

On being approached, ISSF general secretary Alexander Ratner said the decision to allot quota places depend on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), adding Vladimir Lisin, president of the sport's global governing body, will meet Indian Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to sort out the matter.

Meanwhile, maintaining that door is still open for Pakistani shooters, despite the prevailing tension between the two countries in the wake of killing of more than 40 CRPF troopers by a suicide bomber in Pulwama near Srinagar, NRAI Secretary General D.V. Seetharama Rao said the federation will go by the "wishes and orders" of the government.

"We will follow and comply with rules and regulations and orders of the government of India. Much before this unfortunate event (Pulwama attack) we had sent out invitations and visas were granted," Rao said.

"At this point of time, they were supposed to come today. It is up to them. At least they have to come and shoot. Shooting is a highly technical sport with lots of mental strain. This might cause some disturbance in their minds, coming here at this point. Thus its up to them," he said.

Rao said if the Indian government, through its consulate in Islamabad, has issued visas, it means they want the Pakistani shooters to participate and that's the stand of the NRAI.

"Its up to them. Their families might not allow them to go, their coaches might say the boys are disturbed and don't want to go and shoot. Coming here is not the end of the world from shooters' angle," he said.

On the repercussions if the two Pakistanis do not get an opportunity to take part in the World Cup that offers 16 Tokyo Olympics quota places, Rao said the NRAI hasn't objected to their participation and will discuss the issue with the ISSF.

"We have to take it as it comes. We (NRAI) will have to sit with the ISSF and discuss things out."