The International Olympic Committee on Thursday canceled places for the 2020 Tokyo Games shooting competition to be awarded at an event in India after the host country refused to give visas to Pakistani shooters, the head of the sport’s governing body said.
India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to “isolate” its arch-rival neighbor over the attack.
Sixteen qualifying places for the Tokyo Games were to be decided at the opening shooting World Cup event in New Delhi. But Vladimir Lisin, president of the ISSF world body, said these would now go to other qualifying events.
“The International Olympic Committee informed us this World Cup will not be included in the competitions for Olympic quotas,” Lisin, himself an IOC executive member, told the tournament opening ceremony late Thursday.
“The quotas will be distributed at another World Cup. No one can be discriminated against and we have to follow the IOC decision as part of the IOC family,” he added.
The IOC said it was deliberating on the controversy and would soon announce a decision.
Over 500 shooters are taking part in the Indian event, for which competition starts Saturday.
Pakistan, which has denied any role in the Kashmir attack, says two shooters and a coach were denied visas to attend the contest.
Lisin said the International Shooting Sport Federation and the Indian organizing committee had done everything possible to get the shooters to the contest.
But National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh said he could not go against the Indian government’s decision.
Singh also insisted no final decision on the Olympic places had been taken.
“Nothing is canceled as of now. The status as of now is we don’t know,” Singh told reporters. “There are meetings that are going on where the position is being assessed by the IOC and the government.”
India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites and also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of PSLV rocket, ISRO said on Saturday.
According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a new variant of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket will first put the 436 kg Emisat into a 749 km orbit.
After that, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.
This will be followed by bringing the rocket down further to 485 km when the fourth stage/engine will turn into a payload platform carrying three experimental payloads: (a) Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO for Maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships (b) Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), India – to assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data and (c) Advanced Retarding Potential Analyser for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) – for the structural and compositional studies of ionosphere, the space agency said.
The whole flight sequence will take about 180 minutes from the rocket’s lift off slated at 9.30 a.m. on April 1.
The 28 international customer satellites (24 from US, 2 from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland)- will weigh about 220 kg.
“It is a special mission for us. We will be using a PSLV rocket with four strap-on motors. Further, for the first time we will be trying to orbit the rocket at three different altitudes,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had earlier told IANS.
The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.
In its normal configuration, the rocket will have six strap-on motors hugging the rocket’s first stage.
On January 24, the ISRO flew a PSLV with two strap-on motors while in March, it had four strap-on motors.
The Indian space agency also has two more PSLV variants, viz Core Alone (without any strap-on motors) and the larger PSLV-XL.