THREE Indian martial arts athletes from a region claimed by China have been forced to pull out of the Asian Games in Hangzhou after not receiving clearance from the host country, reports said Friday (22).
The three women wushu fighters are from the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a region claimed almost in full by Beijing as “South Tibet”.
Wushu, or kung fu, is a multi-disciplinary martial art originating in China.
According to the Hindustan Times newspaper, the trio were approved to take part by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee, but were unable to download their accreditation cards – which act as visas to enter China.
The rest of the 10-member squad along with the coaching staff left for the Games in Hangzhou on Wednesday (20), the newspaper reported.
Neither the Indian Olympic Association nor the country’s foreign ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.
The Indian wushu team did not travel to the Chinese city of Chengdu for the World University Games in July after the same three athletes were issued stapled, rather than pasted, visas – an indication that Beijing does not recognise India’s territorial claim over Arunachal Pradesh.
The move triggered angry reactions from the Indian side with the foreign ministry saying it was “unacceptable.”
Arunachal Pradesh is on the other side of the Himalayas from Tibet and shares a common Buddhist cultural heritage with its northern neighbour.
The Dalai Lama fled through the state in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in his homeland and has lived in India ever since.
Beijing briefly occupied most of the territory in a bloody conflict three years after the Buddhist leader’s flight.
Earlier this year, India reacted strongly after China renamed 11 places in the disputed region.
New Delhi consistently maintains that the state has always been and will always be an “integral and inalienable part of India”.