SHOOTING: First ISSF World Cup overshadowed by Pakistan visa issue

The ISSF World Cup in New Delhi (IND) was supposed to be an opportunity for Olympic qualification for Tokyo in 2020, but the competition has already been impacted by politics.

First, the schedule:

23 Feb.: Women/10 m Air Rifle
24 Feb.: Men/50 m Rifle/3 Pos., Men/10 m Air Pistol, Women/25 m Pistol
25 Feb.: Men/10 m Air Rifle
26 Feb.: Women/50 m Rifle/3 Pos., Women/10 m Air Pistol, Men/25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol
27 Feb.: Mixed 10 m Air Rifle, Mixed 10 m Air Pistol

Now the controversy.

The government of India, in the latest chapter of its eternal strain with Pakistan after a 14 February bombing that killed 40, refused entry visas to two Pakistani shooters scheduled to compete in the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol event. The ISSF got involved to try and resolve the issue, but nothing happened quickly and on Thursday (21st), the International Olympic Committee refused to recognize the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol event as valid for Olympic qualification:

“The IOC restricted the withdrawal of recognition as an Olympic qualification event to the 25m rapid fire pistol competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. 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 ISSF’s statement noted that “the ISSF and the Organizing Committee are discussing the possible consequences for India as a host country for future international competitions, in all sports.”

So one of the events is tainted, but the rest of the show will go on. It’s too bad, since the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol event is the only one which has both a 2016 Olympic Champion and the 2018 World Champion entered. There are four 2016/2018 gold medalists in the field:

● Xuan Vinh Hoang (VIE) ~ 10 m Air Pistol Olympic Champion
● Junmin Lin (CHN) ~ 25 m Rapid Fire Pistol World Champion
● Christian Reitz (GER) ~ 25 m Rapid Fire Pistol Olympic Champion
● Sergey Kamenskiy (RUS) ~ 10 m Air Rifle World Champion

Olympic qualification slots are available to the first two finishers in each event (now excepting the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol). Slots have already been handed out at the 2018 World Championships in Changwon (KOR), and will be available in other competitions in the future.

The ISSF has excellent coverage and results data available here.