The team for Iran has been granted visas for the Asian Cycling Championships, which begin today in New Delhi, India.
The 11th hour decision by the Indian Home Ministry on Tuesday evening comes after UCI President, Pat McQuaid and the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) put pressure on the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) to expedite a resolution. Iranian officials had submitted their documents for the championships a month ago. McQuaid wrote to the Indian Minister of Home Affairs on February 28 urging the government to issue visas allowing Iranian athletes to travel to the championships.
According to the Times of India, the Iranian team was planning a non-attendance at the championships had they not been granted visas yesterday.
"The first group of cyclists and officials will be taking the 4am flight tomorrow [Wednesday] but we are really disappointed," Navid, Cycling Federation of Iran's manager of International Relations, told the Times of India.
"Our plan was to hold a 10-day camp in New Delhi because our cyclists are not used to the wooden track. We cannot expect a good performance because the team is underprepared."
Navid's claims are disputed by Onkar Singh, secretary general of the Cycling Federation of India (CFI).
"Most of their cyclists are road racers and the races are scheduled from March 13 so I don't think they will have a problem," he said.
The Cycling Federation of Iran may yet make an official complaint to the UCI over the delay.
"Let's see how things pan out," said Navid. "We will all reflect after the event and see if such a step is necessary."
The team from Pakistan is yet to receive their visas due to on-going political tensions between the two nations.
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