The Indian javelin thrower Annu Rani risks losing some of the most important sports events due to her expired visa, which hampers the athlete’s participation and performance.
According to the local media, the national record-holder was scheduled to attend the Paris Diamond League, as well as carry out her training sessions in Offenburg, Germany, but that was put on hold as the athlete is dealing with issues with her visa, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“I have a multiple Schengen visa that allows me to stay a maximum of three months in Germany and then come back to India and stay here for 90 days. Only after that can I go back to Germany,” Rani said for Sportstar.
She returned to India a few weeks ago as her visa for a short stay of 90 days is no longer valid, and she is permitted to travel to Germany only after three months. This indicates that Rani can miss her training, which will affect her performance at the World Championships in Budapest in August.
So, the athlete is demanding a long-term residence permit or a visa that allows her to stay until the end of the Paris Olympics.
“The SAI and the Athletics Federation of India are trying, but there has not been any progress so far. I hope the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) helps me in this,” she added.
In addition to causing distress, this situation is affecting India’s position in the sports’ international rankings and the athlete’s preparation for the Olympics. She pointed out that she is invited to the Paris Diamond League, which will take place on June 9, and all of her javelin thrower competitors will be there, while Rani has no visa to go there; thus, she might miss this opportunity.
The 31-year-old athlete is a bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games, while in 2019, she was Asia’s silver medal winner. Rani aims to throw 65 meters at the World Championships, while her personal best is 63.82 metres.
According to Schengen Statistics, India represents the third-largest nationality group that has lodged the most applications for visas in 2022 – a total of 671,928, falling behind applications submitted by Russians (687,239) and Turks, who holds the first position with 778,409 applications filed.
The same data reveals that a total of 121,188 visas were not issued to Indian nationals in 2022, representing refusal rates of 18.3 per cent. On the other hand, 296,964 multiple entry visas were issued to Indian nationals in this period – accounting for MEVs share of 54.9 per cent.