Pakistan's lone skeet shooter Usman Chand has got a visa to travel to India and will, after all, compete in the New Delhi World Cup this month, Razi Ahmed Khan, secretary general of the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP), said on Thursday.
"We received the visa from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Thursday. It's good that Chand will get a chance to compete with the top shooters from across the globe. We hope he is able to shoot a good score in India," Khan told IANS from Lahore.
IANS had reported on March 5 that Chand had applied for a visa to travel to India for the World Cup.
More than 300 shooters from 43 countries are expected to compete in the ISSF World Cup in rifle, pistol and shotgun events from March 18 to 29 here at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges.
According to Khan, no coach or official would accompany Chand. "Since Chand, who is training in Sialkot, has got necessary travel documents he will plan out his flight schedule accordingly," Khan said.
Importantly, India is scheduled to also host the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup in October-November. But so far there is no clarity if the Pakistani team will get the visas to visit India and compete. And, interestingly, the Pakistan Cricket Board has already demanded that Pakistani fans should also be granted visas to watch T20 World Cup matches in India.
Chand, 36, had missed the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but finished a creditable fifth at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
Earlier this month, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had sent a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the NRAP to process Chand's visa application form.
It may be recalled that for the 2019 Shooting World Cup, held in New Delhi, India had not granted visas to two Pakistani pistol shooters who had wanted to compete in the men's 25 m rapid fire event.
After Pakistan complained to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC withdrew qualification status for the 2020 Olympic Games from the World Cup in that event. The Olympics was later postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events who are already in India for their competition," the IOC had said in a statement at the time, after a decision to this effect was taken at its executive board meeting in Lausanne.
Pakistan had applied for visas for the two shooters -- G.M. Bashir and Khalil Ahmed -- in the rapid fire category for the New Delhi World Cup, as 16 quota places for the 2020 Olympics were on offer.
Incidentally, the Delhi World Cup was staged from February 20-28, soon after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, 2019.
Chand's personal-best score of 122 out of 150 was shot in 2018 during the Asian Games in Indonesia. His current world ranking is 108 as per the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). He had missed out on the Egypt Shotgun World Cup, held from February 22 to March 5. Despite the Cairo World Cup carrying global ranking points, the Pakistani shooter's name was missing from the field.
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