The Indian lawn bowls team, which was to fly to Sydney for a practice session ahead of the Commonwealth Games, has been denied visas as the Australian high commission considers them “flight risks”.
"This is the ultimate case of Indian bashing by the (Australian) government,” said the team’s Aussie coach Richard Gale, who had arranged for a month-long stint of matches with teams Down Under. <b1>
“Most of these players have been to China and Malaysia without a hitch but this is the second time Australia has denied them visas. Why would these players who have no money and can hardly speak English abscond in an alien country,” he asked.
“The high commission wanted bank statements and employment certificates,” Lawn Bowls Federation of India president Sunaina Kumari said. “Most of these players are poor; one can’t expect them to have huge bank balances.”
On whether the denial of visas had racial overtones, she said, “I think so.”
“Nonsense,” said Mark Ryan, first secretary in-charge of public affairs in the mission. “We issue any number of visas to Indians. We don’t issue visas on the basis of ethnicity or religion.”