Indian team's participation in the IAAF World Relays to be held in the Bahamas on April 22-23 has been thrown into jeopardy due to delay in issuance of transit visa by the US Embassy here, the national federation said today.
An Indian contingent of six men and six women athletes, along with two coaches and a masseur were to travel through the US on transit visa for the Bahamas but they are unlikely to do it now.
"Lengthy and tedious US visa process has created uncertainty over Indian 4x400m Relay teams participation in the IAAF World Relays to be held in the Bahamas," the Athletics Federation of India said in a statement.
"However, even after constant efforts and a number of emails to the US visa department for an early interview date for the issuance of transit visa for the Indian team, the delay from authorities has hampered chances of Indian team's participation in the World Relays."
The members of the Indian contingent have already got their visas for Bahamas but they are yet to get the US transit visas.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said after running from pillar to post, the athletes have got tomorrow's date (April 20, 1.30pm) for biometric entry for the US transit visa processing.
"But this is the only biometric registration, the date of appointment for an interview in person is set for April 21. Now, this has put us in a very very difficult situation," he added.
Both the men's and women's 4x400m relay race heats are scheduled for the evening session on the first day on April 22.
Explaining the timeline of the US transit visa application by the AFI, Sumariwalla said, "We received the visa for the team from the Bahamas on 7th April 2017 and on the same day only we wrote a letter to US Visa Consular regarding an urgent appointment for the transit visa.
"We then paid the visa fee and were asked to fill details of the team for group appointment online. Unfortunately, the process halted in the middle due to technical error. We wrote to them about the error and it was resolved after almost 24 hours," the AFI President said.
"It has never happened with any of our teams before. We followed all the procedures and steps as they suggested, but unfortunately, it did not help us. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Sports Authority of India also assisted us in this case from time to time."
The two-day competition in Bahamas assumes significance as the top eight finishers in 4x100m and 4x400m in both men and women's sections will earn automatic berth for the World Athletics Championship in London in August.
Besides regular 4x400m and 4x100m relay events, the World Relays programme will also feature 4x200m and 4x800m relays in both men and women's categories.
India, however, will only compete in the 4x400m relay event in both and women's categories.