Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials are making powerful statements, blaming each other and delayed visas as a reason of changed travel plans for the Commonwealth games 2018 which are going to be held in Gold-Coast, Australia this year. Instead of discussing athlete prospects in the first of the two major multi-discipline events of the year, discussion is on the delay in visa processing and the accompanying uncertainty.
In such a crucial time, this is the last thing which an athlete wants that is to stress on account of delays in securing a travel visa. Yet, even after listening so many stories time and again, a few Indian athletes and coaches are forced to face disappointment every time.
The consequent Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, seems no different. And the reasons are quite obvious too. The enticement to blame “cumbrous visa processes” must be resisted, more so since Australia in the very beginning cleared that everyone in the Games family- athletes, coaches, support staff, officials, administrators, media personnel- would be granted visas without any hassle.
In October 2017, visa rules figured prominently in the Chefs de Mission conference in Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast. Showing concern for the athletes, Commonwealth Federation president Louis Martin said that they were worried about athletes pulling out because of the change in visa and accreditation system, needing each individual to fill a form online.
Reacting to the Chefs de Mission, Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation chief executive Mark Peters said the tightening of visa conditions was justified by health and national security issues, also he pointed out that he was only responding to what was happening internationally.
Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) was quick to point out that the suggestion that each athlete had to apply individually was false. It also said that visa applications may be lodged in Bulk by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation or by individual nations or territory organizing committees on behalf of the athletes.
This can be found on the website of the Australian Department of Home Affairs as well. “You can apply under the Australian Government Endorsed Events activity type of this visa if you are: A Commonwealth Games Family Member who is registered for accreditation with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC). Following receipt of an application for accreditation from a GOLDOC recognised Responsible Organisation, GOLDOC will contact you regarding your visa application for Commonwealth Games participation.”