Ferozepur, December 1
International Kabaddi Championship kickstarted at Sultanpur Lodhi today without the Pakistan team which was refused visa by the Indian Consulate. The tourney has been organised to mark the 550th Parkash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev. Sport enthusiasts looking forward to watching the archrivals clash on the kabaddi turf were left disappointed.
Sources said former Akali minister Sikander Singh Maluka, who is president of the Punjab Kabaddi Association, made an effort to prevail upon the Union Government through Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal to grant visa to Pakistan’s team, but in vain.
Three matches, including one featuring India and Pakistan, were scheduled to be held in this border district.
Local resident Ranjan Sharma observed: “Any sporting event between India and Pakistan evokes much excitement. Visa denial to Pakistan team is indeed disappointing.” Harpreet Bhogal, who resides in the US, said he had extended his stay only to watch the India-Pakistan match. “The distrust between the two nations has spoiled it all. It would have been an apt culmination to the festivities that began with the opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor.”
Nine teams — the US, Australia, England, Sri Lanka, Kenya, New Zealand and Canada — besides hosts India are participating in the championship. In 2017 too India had denied permission to Pakistan players to compete in the Pro Kabaddi League.
Rana Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi said 150 players from seven countries had already arrived for the tournament. He said Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh would preside over the closing ceremony at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur. The winning team would be awarded a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh, the runners-up Rs 15 lakh and those on the third spot Rs 10 lakh.
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