The arrival of ‘Indian’ Kabaddi team in Pakistan for Kabaddi World Cup 2020 has sparked a new debate after the sports ministry and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) distanced itself from granting any permission or consent to any team to travel to the neighbouring nation.

Reacting to the whole scenario, the coach of ‘Indian team’ – Harpreet Singh Baba currently in Pakistan for World Cup backed his players for participating in the tournament, saying they have come across the border after receiving the invite and in their individual capacity for promoting the sport. Despite any permission from the top authorities, a contingent from India reached Lahore to participate in the world event via thr Wagah border.

“We had got the invitation for this event last year and the invitation was sent to individual players as well as clubs and the Punjab Kabaddi Federation. Players have played in such tournaments individually and on their own and as a promoter, I have always encouraged players to play and help in the growth of the sport,” Baba, who is in Lahore, was quoted by The Indian Express.

All the Indian players participating in the Kabaddi World Cup (Circle Kabaddi) hail from Punjab. The Kabaddi World Cup features teams from 10 countries but the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India and Punjab Kabaddi Federation (India) denied sending any official team to the event.

The coach also backed his team’s actions by admitting the fact that they have followed the procedures and adhered to the guidelines. “Each of us had applied for visa individually and the team was named India since the tournament is called the World Cup. If there was any objection from the Ministry of External Affairs, sports Ministry, Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) or Punjab Kabaddi Federation, they should have stopped us from coming here. We have come here on a valid visa. Most of these players have played across the world as individuals in various events,” Baba added.

All the six previous editions of the Kabaddi World Championship were held in India between 2010 and 2019 where the hosts emerged victorious on all occasions. India have won all six championships, defeating Pakistan in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions.

Earlier on Monday, IOA chief Narinder Batra said that the team, which reached Lahore, is not an official one from the country and hence, they cannot compete under ‘India’ banner as they have not been approved by the Amateur Kabbadi Federation of India (AKFI).

“The IOA has not approved and it has also not been approved by the federation so I don’t know who has gone. Whether 60 or 100 have gone, I have no idea. The Kabaddi federation, which is a member of IOA, has confirmed that they have not sent anyone. I have seen statements from the (sports) ministry which confirm they have not approved anyone. So I don’t know who they are and what the story is,” Batra said.

“It has got nothing to do with Indian sports,” he added.

Players from 10 countries – Pakistan, India, Canada, the United States, Australia, England, Iran, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Azerbaijan are taking part in the event.