In a time where many feel inter-ministry coordination is rather poor; this instance proved it all wrong.
When 25 Indian para-badminton players needed the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of Government of India's help in securing Canadian visas last-minute —officers of both ministries pulled a commendable feat. The para-badminton players not only got their visa despite the weekend and short notice —they got it in a record 4-hours on Monday. The same evening they were scheduled to fly to Canada.
The Indian Para-Badminton team was excited to participate in the BWF Canada Para-Badminton International, but then came a major hurdle, which they had little control over. The visas of 25 out of 31 para-athlete players were still pending and time was running out. The BWF Canada Para-Badminton International was scheduled to kick off on June 6 and with just two days for the event, they had no idea if the visas would come in time. Panic and worry overcame the players, for whom it was the last chance to qualify for the 2022 World Para-Badminton Championships.
"We had applied for the visa a month back immediately after the tournament entry list was updated. But for some reason, our visas haven't been processed yet. We had to leave yesterday (3rd June), in fact, but since the visa delay came about, we don't know when we can fly out next," international gold medalist and world's no. 7 para-badminton player Nilesh Gaikwad told a sports magazine.
Visa troubles almost cost the championship
Having run out of patience and ways to expedite the Canadian visa process, Gaikwad took to Twitter, seeking help from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
All the Visas of Ind Para ? Team Going to CANADA on 6 June (last Qualif. Event for WC 2022) are Pending.— Nilesh Gaikwad (@nilugaikwad23) June 4, 2022
MYAS & @YASMinistry made all needed efforts. Hoping for a Positive response till last available day Monday@Media_SAI @HCI_Ottawa@canadavisa_com@MEAIndia@GauravParaCoach pic.twitter.com/MMFXOzXTMq
The Canada Para-Badminton International is a level 1 tournament, with plenty of points on offer, and the final tournament for qualifying for the 2022 WC. Gaikwad explained that missing the Canada event would mean a huge blow to the para-shuttlers as it would badly affect their points.
"The BWF will be halving the points of 2019 after the Canada International and by end-December, the points from 2019 will become 0, as per the ranking rules of the BWF now. This will be a blow for us because, from any country, up to 3 players can be sent from every category and these players have to stay within the BWF Top 16 or Top 8 in certain cases, so once the rankings are halved of 2019, some of us just might drop out of the Top 8 or 16, if we don't play in Canada and not be able to play in the World Championships," Gaikwad explained the matter.
MEA, MYAS, SAI save the day
The MEA, SAI, and Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) got involved to work in tandem to resolve the visa issue of 25 Indian para-athletes. International Business Times learned through highly-placed sources that the senior officials in the MYAS and MEA worked over the weekend to ensure the Canadian visas of 25 para-athletes were processed and in a matter of four hours, the para-shuttlers visas were granted.
As a result of back-and-forth communication from the top and the Canadian embassy, which also worked hard to process the visas. The diplomatic relations between India and Canada helped resolve a crucial issue for the para-athletes.
All the pending visas of 22 para-athletes and 3 officials were granted in time for the Canada Para-Badminton International, MYAS confirmed on Monday.
The news of visas arrival quickly reached the team and Gaikwad shared his excitement on Twitter. While confirming the revised visa status, Gaikwad thanked the sports ministries and all the authorities who helped in this regard.
"Time has really changed.. sports ministry is helping in every possible way to the players & it's very easy to reach the authorities," he wrote.