At the recently-held Tent Pegging World Cup Qualifier in Greater Noida, horsemen of Indian nationality represented Nepal
NEW DELHI: Have you ever heard of sportspersons from a country represent another nation in a high-profile competition where World Cup participation is at stake? Well, something like this happened in India a week back.
In an inexplicable and baffling turn of events, four horsemen of Indian nationality represented Nepal at the recently-held Tent Pegging World Cup qualification event in Greater Noida. The tournament was organized by the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI), along with Equiwings Sports, from March 16 to 18 under the aegis of International Tent Pegging Federation (ITPF), whose headquarters are in Muscat, Oman.
There were five teams that took part in the event: India, Pakistan, Belarus, USA and Nepal. Out of the seven competitions held at the qualifiers, India claimed six gold medals and one bronze to finish first with a total of 515 points and qualified for the World Cup, which is scheduled to be organized in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2023. Pakistan came second and were followed by Nepal in third place.
As per ITPF rules, four or more teams have to participate for a valid World Cup qualifier. Shockingly, it was later learnt that the horsemen (four in number) riding for Nepal were all Indians. Also, the names of the Indian riders representing Nepal were wrongly spelt and no surnames were written on the result sheets.
The four-member Nepalese team, according to the result sheet, was: Yogandar, Golam, Kepil and Vinay. Their actual names are: Yogender, Gulam Mohamed, Kapil and Vinay Kumar. All of them are Indian nationals.
The EFI, which is conducting its own investigation, has written to the ITPF and flagged the issue. The federation has also written to the Equestrian Federation of Nepal and asked an explanation. About the gaffe, EFI secretary general Col. Jaiveer Singh said that the federation didn’t think of conducting any background check since the names were coming from the Nepalese federation. He squarely put the blame on his Nepalese counterparts.
“The Nepal federation okayed this. The Nepalese federation sent the names to us. The ITPF okayed Nepal’s participation. That’s why we thought that these players must be genuine. Once a national federation of a country says these are the players who are going to represent them, we go through with it. Nepalese citizens do not require visa to visit India. So our main focus was on Pakistan and USA. I was vigorously pursuing the visas of Pakistan and the American teams,” Col. Jaiveer told TOI.
The Nepal Olympic Committee has denied giving permission to any Nepalese passport holding national to participate in the event.
“The ITPF will take a decision soon on this issue and even if Nepal is disqualified, then four countries are left and the requirement to conduct the qualifier is of four. This doesn’t affect India’s qualification. I am expecting a reply from the Nepalese federation in a day or two. The jury for the tournament came from abroad. One judge was from Oman and one from Sudan. They never raised any issue. If they had got a whiff of things, they should’ve raised this with the ITPF immediately,” Col. Jaiveer added.
One of the participants turning up for Nepal was Yogender (name on result sheet Yogandar). TOI got in touch with him. He said, “One person named Mr Suriya got in touch with me and asked me to participate in the event. He asked me to ride for Nepal. He told me that he represented the Nepal federation. I had gone to Greater Noida for the Nationals and finished fourth in that championship. The guy who got in touch with me must have seen me perform at the Nationals.”
A source within the EFI gave another point of view. “Due to the prevailing Covid situation, the visas of Pakistan and USA teams were getting delayed. But as per ITPF rules, minimum four teams have to participate for a valid World cup qualifier to take place. That’s why a team of Indian riders in the name of Nepal was made up and entered for the event. As those riders were known to many people present at the venue, questions were naturally raised as to how these Indian riders got the permission to represent Nepal,” the source said.