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Three Indian female wushu athletes from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh have been barred from participating in the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, due to a territorial dispute between the two countries. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory, which India disputes.
September 22, 2023: The regrettable development stems from the athletes’ inability to secure clearance from the host nation, China, as reported by various media outlets.
The territorial dispute between India and China
The territorial dispute between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh dates back to the 1950s. China claims the entire state as part of its territory, while India claims that the state is an integral part of India. The dispute has led to several skirmishes and tensions between the two countries over the years.
Three Indian Athletes barred from the Asian Games
The three Indian athletes who have been barred from participating in the Asian Games are Yumlam Meena, Roshan Meena, and Sonam Meena. They had received approval from the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee but were unable to download their accreditation cards, which are essential visas for entry into China.
Lack of response from Indian authorities
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Ministry of External Affairs have not yet commented on the incident. This lack of response from the Indian authorities has raised concerns about whether they are doing enough to support the three athletes and to ensure that their rights are protected.
Previous incidents of discrimination against Indian athletes
This is not the first time that Indian athletes have been discriminated against due to the territorial dispute between India and China. In 2022, the Indian wushu team opted out of the World University Games held in Chengdu, China, after they were issued stapled visas instead of pasted visas—a clear indication that Beijing refuses to acknowledge India’s territorial claim over Arunachal Pradesh.
Shared heritage and historical context
Arunachal Pradesh, geographically situated on the opposite side of the Himalayan range from Tibet, shares a profound Buddhist cultural heritage with its northern neighbor. The region played a pivotal role in the escape of the Dalai Lama in 1959 following an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. Since then, the Dalai Lama has resided in India. It is important to note that China briefly occupied a significant portion of this territory during a violent conflict three years after the Dalai Lama’s escape.
Recent tensions and disputes
Tensions have flared up in recent times as well, with China renaming eleven places within the disputed region. India’s stance on Arunachal Pradesh remains unwavering, asserting that the state has always been and will forever be an “integral and inalienable part of India.”
The barring of the three Indian female athletes from the Asian Games is a disappointing development. It is important to ensure that all athletes have the opportunity to compete fairly and that no one is discriminated against on the basis of their nationality or place of origin.
The IOA and the Indian government should work together to resolve this issue as soon as possible and to ensure that all athletes are able to compete in international sporting events without facing discrimination.