Coronavirus - Delhi Shooting World Cup likely to be postponed

File photo - Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary compete in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team event final in the 2019 ISSF World Cup, New Delhi. PTI Photo/Arun Sharma

The ISSF Shooting World Cup in New Delhi, scheduled from March 15-26, is likely to be postponed following concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has recommended the postponement to the International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF), who will take the final call.

"After deep reflection and debate, and despite it being fully cognisant of the fact that it shall as a consequence be saddled by substantial financial losses, the organising committee (OC) has today recommended to the ISSF & its President, Mr. Vladimir Lisin, that the New Delhi World Cup (Combined) that was to be conducted between the 15th and the 26th of March be postponed," said Raninder Singh, President, NRAI

"The OC has further proposed to the President of the ISSF that this combined World Cup now be broken into two separate fully empowered World Cups, the first for Rifle and Pistol only to be conducted in the first week of May (5th -12th) and the second for shotgun events only to be conducted in the first week of June (2nd-9th) this year," he added.

An Olympic Test event for shooting scheduled for April 16 in Tokyo had earlier been cancelled due to the outbreak.

The recommendation from the hosts comes after a Government of India advisory suspending visas granted to citizens of Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan. "All regular (sticker) visas/e-visa (including VOA for Japan and South Korea) granted to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan issued on or before 03.03.2020 and who have not entered India, stand suspended with immediate effect," the advisory said. Visas granted to Chinese citizens were suspended last month.

Considering the extraordinary situation, the ISSF has also requested the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to prolong the internal Olympic qualification period in order to ensure all shooters get equal chances of making it to the Games.

"In case of the IOC approval, the World Cups in Munich (Germany), and Baku (Azerbaijan), can also influence the outcome of the Olympic Qualification," the ISSF said. "It must be noted that all Qualification Quota Places, as planned, will be allocated by May 31, 2020," the sport's apex body added. Earlier, the ISSF had announced that participants at the World Cup would not be awarded ranking points due to the travel restrictions, but that it would have been possible for athletes to achieve the Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) that can influence athletes' chances to get Olympic quota places. However, with the rescheduled World Cup, ranking points are back on the table for shooters in contention to get the 15 available nominal quotas for the Olympics.

In all, 22 countries had pulled out of the Delhi event, an official in NRAI had earlier told PTI. The Indian government's list of guidelines states that the visa of all foreign nationals, who have visited the affected countries in the year 2020 and have not yet landed in India, will be cancelled.

Earlier the NRAI had withdrawn Indian shooters from the ISSF Shotgun World Cup, being held currently in Nicosia, Cyprus.

The outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID-19, which has seen almost 98,000 confirmed cases and over 3,300 deaths across 87 countries, has led to the cancellation and postponement of a number of sporting events across the world including the World Indoor Track and Field championships, the Chinese F1 Grand Prix, Moto GP races in Qatar and Thailand, as well as Six Nations rubgy matches and several Italian league football games.

On Wednesday, the 3x3 basketball Oympic qualifiers, scheduled to be held in Bengaluru between March 18-22, became the first major tournament to be postponed in India due to the outbreak. As on date, there have been 31 confirmed cases in the nation, with authorities in Delhi ordering the immediate closure of primary schools until March 31 to prevent local transmission and the central government making universal screening mandatory for all international passengers arriving in India.

More details on how the outbreak is affecting Indian sport can be found here.