South Korea, Italy, Iran likely to miss Delhi World Cup due to coronavirus

People wearing protective face masks in Milan, Italy. The death toll among Italians infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease rose to 17 on February 28. MARCO OTTICO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

After the pull out of China and Pakistan, the ISSF shooting world cup, scheduled to be held in New Delhi between March 16-26, is unlikely to see the participation of three other countries - South Korea, Italy and Iran. This comes after the federations of those three countries were informed of the need to undergo strict quarantine rules laid down by the government of India in order to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The virus has so far killed close to 3000 people and infected over 80,000 globally. While the virus originated in China, the three aforementioned nations have seen a sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases over the past week.

As such, the NRAI (National Rifle association of India) had received a travel advisory from the Indian health ministry on February 26 stating, "People coming from the Republic of Korea, Iran and Italy or those having history of travel to those countries may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival to India."

The Indian embassies in the three nations had also announced the travel advisory following which the shooting federations of Italy and South Korea had written to the NRAI seeking clarity on the position being taken by the Indian federation regarding shooters from those countries and the conduct to be followed for the New Delhi World Cup.

The NRAI in turn responded an official letter from the Italian federation on Friday stating. "....all Italian nationals travelling to India, per this advisory, face a minimum of 14 days quarantine in a facility created and designed by the government of India. In such a circumstance, it is virtually certain that even we as members of the organising committee would not be granted access to such athletes should, despite knowledge of it being so, anyone chose to travel to India."

The NRAI has also received and responded to a letter from the South Korean federation while there has been no communication from the Iranian federation.

"We would have wanted the members of the Italian, South Korean and Iranian teams to take part in New Delhi but we are duty bound to follow the advisory of the government of India. With a 14 day quarantine period it will be difficult for these countries to be able to send their teams to India for the World Cup," said Raninder Singh, president of the NRAI.

Earlier on Friday, India had pulled out of the ISSF shotgun World Cup to be held between March 4-13 in Cyprus, citing the threat posed by the novel coronavirus "The coronavirus threat is the only reason we are pulling out and it has been done on the advice of central agencies," an NRAI official said. "Given the situation it was the right decision as we can't put our shooters, support staff and accompanying officials at risk of contracting the virus," he added.

While there is no Olympic quota on offer at the Delhi World Cup, the event had offered ranking points that could have played a role in Olympic qualification.

Apart from the quarantine regulations, NRAI officials have said that shooters from Japan are facing further challenges after the Indian Government cancelled their visa on arrival policy that had applied to that country on February 28. Japan too has been affected by the spread of novel coronavirus with over 900 individuals reportedly infected.

Shooting isn't the only sport whose calender has been thrown out of place because of efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Earlier this month, the Indian government refused to grant visas to Chinese wrestlers for the Asian Wrestling Championship held in New Delhi due to the disease while North Korea had also pulled out of the tournament. The Asian wrestling qualifiers, which was supposed to be held in Kyrgyzstan next month has also been postponed indefinitely.

More details on sports affected by the spread of the virus can be found here.