India has withdrawn its archery team from the World Youth Championship after 21 team members out of a contingent of 31, were denied visas to enter the United States. The championship is set to take place in Yankton, South Dakota.
The decision to withdraw all the archers from India was made by the Archery Association of India (AAI) in order to protest the visa refusals. In addition to the 21 archers being denied visas, the team’s Korean coach, Chae Wom Lim, a seasoned traveler, had also been denied a visa.
The 10 individuals who were granted visas included only seven archers, two coaches, and an official from the Sports Authority of India. Visas were also withheld from the three Indian coaches that were set to travel with the archers, along with the team’s masseuse.
The Indian group was made up of both boys and girls in the Under-20 category. The young archers had been set to travel on 8th June, and stay until the end of the tournament on 14th June.
The reason given for the visa denial was that the visa officer had decided that there was doubt as to whether these individuals would return to India after the event is over.
The AAI Treasurer, Virender Sachdeva, explained: “We have decided to withdraw the team from this tournament as a mark of protest. This was decided by AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra even though we had reapplied for visas.”
Sachdeva commented on the visa refusal: “It is really a shocking incident. Most of the archers are from lower strata and hail from states like Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Most of them are not well versed in English and hence lack in communication. When the visa officer asked them what they do for a living, they simply said we are archers and play archery.”
While the response of the archers might not have met with the US visa officer’s standards, it is somewhat questionable that Lim was denied a visa, since the coach is very well-known, and is known to travel to a number of locations around the world for archery tournaments.