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US visa woes continue for India’s Junior World Championship-bound shuttlers

The visa hurdles bothering the United States-bound junior shuttlers were resolved for a few on Friday while others are still at the mercy of the United States Embassy and Consulates in India.

A detail shot of a shuttlecock and racquet (Getty Images)
A detail shot of a shuttlecock and racquet (Getty Images)

A 24-member contingent is due to travel in the wee hours of September 22 to Spokane, Washington, to participate in the BWF World Junior Mixed Team Championships from September 25 to 30 followed by the BWF World Junior Championships from October 2 to 8.

Out of the 24, 16 are players, four are coaches, two physios and two team managers. Among them, eight players, two coaches, one physio and both managers – totalling 13, got their visas on Friday, a person privy to the developments told HT.

PV Sindhu’s former coach Park Tae-sang is one of the coaches but since he is South Korean, he can enter the United States without a visa.

Meanwhile, the other eight players, two coaches and one physio are yet to get their US visas. Among the eight players, four have got appointments on September 18 and September 20 in the US Embassy in New Delhi and the Consulate General in Chennai. They will likely get their visas before the flight on September 22.

It has been reliably learnt that all players and officials applied for their visa appointments in New Delhi. But only some got slots in the national capital. Others got Chennai.

However, luck has evaded the other four shuttlers, which include some of India’s best bets, whose applications are yet to get processed let alone get visa interview appointments.

“This is the BWF World Championships and this is the official Indian team. That needs to be taken into consideration. They have to travel together. You cannot revoke anybody. I know the technicalities involved. There is a huge backlog but if you send some to Chennai and some to New Delhi, it is very difficult. They have to be considerate. Hope they can give weightage to the factors involved,” said national selector U Vimal Kumar.

The World Championships bound players are currently attending a national camp at the newly built National Centre of Excellence in Guwahati that started on September 2 and will end on September 20. Some of the shuttlers arrived only on Thursday after attending the Junior Nationals that was held in Bengaluru from September 9 to 12.

“They were supposed to be practicing together but it is really sad. If for 3-4 days they are running around for their visas, when will they practice. It will affect them. It is very unfair. The players have to reach at least 3-4 days prior of competition as they have to get acclimatised to the conditions and time difference” added Vimal.

As of now it appears like some shuttlers will get their visas on time but other may not which could hamper India’s chances in the team championships.

“We are a top badminton nation. We have a good team and a decent chance of doing well. If they do not get visas it is really very concerning,” said a Badminton Association of India (BAI) official on condition of anonymity. “The players who have not got visas are also stressed. It is affecting them mentally as it is a big chance for them to perform. Performing or not performing at the World Championships can make all the difference.”

HT has learnt that the visas for all 23 (Park has visa free entry into the US) were applied for immediately after the four-day selection trials were concluded on July 29. Flights and hotels were all booked without which they could not have applied for visas. The sports ministry is with working with the ministry of external affairs on the subject to resolve the matter for the shuttlers.

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