IOA issues clarification after kabaddi team’s visit to Pakistan sparks controversy

A contingent from India reached Lahore on Saturday via the Wagah Border to take part in the championship, being hosted by Pakistan for the first time. Pictures and footage of the Indians arriving in Lahore have surfaced on social media platforms, kicking up a storm.

The tournament opened on Monday at the Punjab Football Stadium in Lahore, which will be followed by some matches in Faisalabad and Gujarat.

A Sports Ministry source on Sunday said the government has not granted permission to any athlete to travel to Pakistan for the event.

And now the IOA, too, distanced itself from the team’s visit. “The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) had already said that it has not approved any team to travel to Pakistan and the IOA too has not given any such approval,” IOA president Narinder Batra said.

“The Sports Ministry has already made it clear that it has not given any approval. So, we don’t really know who has travelled to Pakistan. No one can use India’s name without the approval of the IOA and the government.”

The administrator of AKFI Justice (Retd.) S P Garg had also said that the national body has not cleared any such team.

“We have no information about any kabbadi team which has gone to Pakistan. No permission was ever granted by AKFI to any team to go to Pakistan and play any Kabbadi match there,” he had said on Saturday.

“We came to know about it only after information was sought. AKFI does not support any such activity. Legal action may be taken against the defaulters,” he added.

Pakistan Punjab Minister for Sports Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti welcomed the Indian contingent at a Lahore hotel.

The officials of the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation garlanded the Indian players when they crossed into Pakistan from the Wagah border, from where they were taken in a security convoy to their hotel in Lahore.

All the six previous editions of the World Kabbadi Championship took place in India between 2010 and 2019. India have won all six championships, defeating Pakistan in the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions.

Pakistani organisers said that teams from Australia, England, Germany, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Canada are also taking part in the event.

The winner of the tournament will get 10 million rupees, while the runner-ups will get 7.5 million rupees.

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