March 24 - Hockey India has threatened to pull its men's team out of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games after it emerged one of its players has been refused a visa by the UK Home Office.
Harbir Singh Sandhu has been denied accreditation for the Games, which are due to run from July 23 to August 3, following background checks carried out by the UK Home Office.
The decision has angered Hockey India, which has asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to withdraw the team from Glasgow 2014.
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra has written to newly elected IOA President N Ramachandran, calling on him to take up the matter with Glasgow 2014 organisers.
"One of our shortlisted athletes for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has been denied visa," Batra wrote in the letter.
"No reason is being given.
"He is a young budding athlete and our prospect for [Rio] 2016 Olympics.
"He has travelled with the Indian team earlier on international tours.
"I feel the IOA needs to push and take this matter forcefully with the [Commonwealth Games organisers] otherwise it is my personal opinion that the IOA as a matter of protest should withdraw the men's hockey team from the Commonwealth Games."
News of the refusal of a visa reportedly came to light after Commonwealth Games Associations relations manager Robert Vergouw wrote a letter to Ramachandran and IOA secretary general Rajiv Mehta on March 10, informing them of the decision by the UK Home Office, which has led Batra to accuse the IOA of not doing enough to clear up the matter.
"They [IOA] only care about getting accreditation for their own officials," Batra reportedly said.
"They are not bothered about the players.
"They are behaving like postmen, just receiving letters, sitting on it and not doing anything about it."
Batra also revealed he will be calling on the support of the Executive Board of Hockey India to back his calls to withdraw the team from the Commonwealth Games at a meeting set to take place on Saturday (March 29).
But the IOA has confirmed today it will write to Glasgow 2014 and the British High Commission in New Delhi to investigate why Harbir was the only one on a list of 700 provisional athletes from India to have been refused accreditation.
Mehta claims the IOA has sought clarification twice already on Harbir's exclusion, but said "we have been told that UK Home Office can only tell the reason".
He went on to insist the IOA cannot be blamed for the situation and pointed out that the player himself can contact the British High Commission to clarify the situation.
In a statement to insidethegames today however, Glasgow 2014 organisers confirmed that unless the decision is reversed, Harbir will not be appearing at the Games this summer and that they had to abide by the decision of the Home Office.
"We can confirm the refusal of a request for accreditation for one member of the proposed Team India Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games delegation," read the statement.
"This is due to the result of a Home Office Background Check (BGC) and Glasgow 2014 cannot offer accreditation to athletes without full BGC compliance.
"We have informed the Indian Olympic Association of this decision."
Harbir, was named as a member of the 28-man provisional squad for Glasgow, but there were no guarantees the 24-year-old full-back would have been selected for the final 16-man squad.
But the Punjab native is one of the rising stars of Indian hockey, however, and was selected for the 2012 Champions Trophy held in Australia.
He has also represented the national side at the Asia Cup in Malaysia and the World League Round Three tournament in the Netherlands last year.
India have been crowned Olympic hockey champions on eight occasions but have never managed to win a Commonwealth Games title.
Their best performance came on home soil last time out in Delhi in 2010, where they lost to Australia in the gold medal match, which saw the Australians claim their fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games title.
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