VISA issues stop 5 Indian players from participating in the World Junior Championships 2023
The World Junior Chess Championships are set to take place at Mexico City, Mexico from 20th September - 2nd October 2023. As expected, a large number of Indian players were qualified to take part in the event. But the Indian players have encountered an unexpected problem in their travels to this prestigious event. 5 of the Indian players - namely Vrashank Chauhan, Arun Kataria, Bhagyashree Patil, GM Prraneeth Vuppala and Femil Chelladurai were not granted with VISA to take part in this event. In this article, we share their statements and try to shed light on the issues faced by the players.
5 Indian players unable to travel to the World Junior Championships 2023 at Mexico
The World Junior Championships 2023 will kick off at Mexico City, Mexico from 20th September 2023. It is an 11-round swiss event with Open and Girls sections, where a total of 238 players are taking part. American GM Hans Niemann is the top seed in the Open section, and American IM Carissa Yip is the highest-rated player in the Women's event.
Players list in open section
|NIEMANN, Hans Moke
|AVILA PAVAS, Santiago
|KOELLNER, Ruben Gideon
|STEFANSSON, Vignir Vatnar
Players list in the girls section
|FRANCISCO GUECAMBURU, Candela Be
|OBREGON GARCIA, Roxangel
|HERNANDEZ GIL, Ineymig
|RODRIGUEZ REDONDO, Adhara
|BOMMINI, Mounika Akshaya
|TER-AVETISJANA, Agnesa Stepania
A total of 6 Indian players qualified for the World Junior Championships - IM Harshavardhan GB (by winning the Asian Junior Championships 2022), GM Pranav Anand (by winning the World Youth Under-16 Championships 2022), Vrashank Chouhan (by winning the MPL 51st National Junior Open 2022), Vignesh B (Runner-up of the MPL 51st National Junior Open 2022), Arun Kataria (3rd place at the MPL 51st National Junior Open 2022), Rakshitta Ravi (by winning the MPL 51st National Junior Girls Open 2022), WIM Bommini Mounika Akshaya (2nd place at the MPL 51st National Junior Girls Open 2022), and Bhagyashree Patil (3rd place at the MPL 51st National Junior Girls Open 2022). The full costs of all of these players, and the two coaches for the team - GM Pravin Thipsay and Kiran Agrawal was to be borne by the Government of India.
Apart from these players, there were a few other Indian chess players who wanted to take part at the World Junior Championships on their own expense. India's 82nd Grandmaster, Prraneeth Vuppala, IM Dushyant Sharma, Amulya Guruprasad and Femil Chelladurai are among those players who had registered for this event.
Out of all these players, 5 Indian players are unable to get the appropriate Visa to travel to Mexico for this tournament - they are: Vrashank Chauhan, Arun Kataria, Bhagyashree Patil, GM Prraneeth Vuppala and Femil Chelladurai. The two coaches of the Indian players for this event, Pravin Thipsay and Kiran Agrawal were also unable to get their Visa. Let's try to understand what really happened in this situation by statements from the players and authorities:
Bharat Singh Chauhan, Asian Chess Federation Deputy President:
"We have been working very hard for the past 3 weeks. We are in touch with FIDE and the Organizers. I was speaking with the President of the Mexican Chess Federation, who happened to be the organizer of the World Junior Championships 2023, and of course we are communicating with the Embassy of Mexico in India. They could not help us. When the last email came, they asked for some document, it was on last Wednesday. We replied within half an hour, and no communication. We called all our players from their hometown to Delhi at the Embassy, in case we get something on Monday.
In fact, the Joint secretary of Sports and lot of Officials from Sports Ministry and External affairs ministry were trying hard to get the VISA. They had written letters, they had sent the messages and sent them Emails, but I think the Mexican Embassy in Delhi is unprofessional."
If these players do not get to play at the World Juniors, will they get a chance to represent India at the World Youth U-18 Olympiad 2023 at Italy?
"As a special case, we are going to request the Government, or the All India Chess Federation will fund these players - if they qualify by age."
Grandmaster Pravin Thipsay
"As per the Mexican Embassy rules, if you have a valid Schengen Visa or if you have a valid US Visa, then you need not have a Mexican Visa. Under the circumstances, we felt that those who do not have, it's very difficult to get Schengen Visa or US Visa. So for the last 7 weeks, we have been trying to get the Mexican Visa. The Government had started the period of proposal from 27th August. After that had been done, in these 7 weeks the window of Mexican Visa is not opening. Sometimes it's opening for 5 minutes, sometimes it's opening for 3 minutes anytime in the day, there is no fixed time of that window. So the entire process is a bogus process - they are probably not giving any Visa's at all.
Because Delhi is the center for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and so many countries for Visa. None of these countries are able to get Visa, they are not able to get appointments so they are coming to India and trying. So, the Mexican Government basically do not have any mechanism for issuing Visa themselves. They are taking advantage of the fact that those who have got ready Schengen and US Visa, they will come. Others, I don't know how they are coming. I have talked to my friends also, I have yet to come across a person who has actually applied for a Mexican Visa and got a Mexican Visa. The efforts from the Mexican Chess Federation also seem to be completely failing.
The way we issued Visa's for our country in 3-4 hours during the Chennai Olympiad 2022 at Mahabalipuram for 2500 players, the Mexican government is not at all interested in giving Mexican Visa. We were not even allowed to get into the embassy, not a representative to get into the embassy and talk to someone. I was outside, let us inside; I am one person, and one person would represent the matter. But they said "not possible", and that also at a security level, so that's not possible. It reflects very poorly on a country who has I think no capacity of issuing visa themselves. It's overall becoming like a colonial approach, that okay you have got a Schengen visa or US visa, so probably you've got credentials. We do not have a mechanism to check the credentials. We are not going to do anything about it, if you are good enough to get visa of these two organizations - Schengen is the entire Europe, or the USA. So, that's the approach - and I think for a sovereign country to have this colonial approach is a very unfortunate thing. I'm sure that these facts were not known, otherwise we would've tried to get a Schengen visa. In my opinion, this is the most disappointing way for a country to deal with a Visa section.
But AICF has taken a great step - within 3/4 hours after we were denied entry, AICF has replaced the coaches who already have the Schengen Visa's ready. Those who are in a position to reach Delhi - Tarini Goyal, who has a Schengen Visa and is a good player, has represented India many times. She was available, she will come to Delhi by 2 a.m. (the flight is at 6:20 a.m.). In 3-4 hours, AICF requested the Ministry to change the names, the tickets are re-issued, and now these 2 coaches (Ms. Tarini Goyal and Mr. Chandrapati Revanth Gopala Krishna) are going.
Out of 8 players, 5 who have a standing Schengen Visa are going. 3 who couldn't get the Visa, don't go. AICF has made sure the minors are being accompanied by adults. So, CRG Krishna (Open coach) is flying from Chennai and Tarini Goyal (Girls coach) is flying from Delhi."
Vrashank Chouhan, MPL 51st National Junior Open Champion
"Hi, I'm Vrashank Chouhan, the National Juniors Chess Champion. I spent so much time training for the World Juniors Chess Championship, thinking it was the chance of a lifetime. I was really pumped to represent India, but then everything fell apart when I learned that the Mexican visa wasn't happening. It was a big blow after all the effort and anticipation. Luckily, AICF gave us another opportunity. Now, I'll be competing in the World Youth Championship in Italy. While it's sad to miss the World Juniors, this new opportunity has lifted my spirits. I'm excited to make the most of it."
Ayush Jain, Coach of Vrashank Chouhan
"Hi, this is Ayush Jain I was the one who is handling the visa situation and taking decision from Vrashank Chauhan's end . a) Its very sad and depressing for Vrashank and everyone here it's been a complete disbelief after trying this hard making all the efforts required but we haven't got the visas . B) it's been around almost 50 days since I was trying to get an visa appointment for Vrashank in that process almost tried 7-8 agents but got no luck. Now I've been informed that AICF has presented kids with another opportunity we are happy with that."
Arun Kataria, 3rd position in the National Juniors 2022
"Hi, I'm Arun Kataria. I've won a National Junior bronze medal and I'm a state champion many times over. I had been practicing a lot for the World Juniors Chess Championship and was super excited to go, especially with support from the government. But then I found out my Mexican visa didn't work out. I felt really let down after putting in so much hard work. But there's some good news. my coach Chandrajeet Rajawat sir from Kingdom of Chess informed me regarding this opportunity by AICF after his request, and now I'll get to play in the World Youth Championship in Italy. Missing out on the World Juniors is tough, but I'm still happy and excited about this new chance."
Chandrajeet Rajawat, Coach of Arun Kataria
"I am Chandrajeet Rajawat, coach of Arun Kataria, and the emotional toll of our visa denial is beyond words. For two months, we exhausted every possible avenue to secure a Mexican visa appointment, but with no success. Only players with existing Schengen visas could participate, leaving Arun, Vrashank, Bhagyashree, Femil, and Praneeth out of the loop. Despite AICF's valiant efforts, our hopes were dashed. Our last-ditch attempt at the Mexican embassy on September 18th also yielded no results, compelling us to cancel our tickets and grapple with immense disappointment. For Arun and Vrashank, this would have been their maiden world event and a significant journey away from home. They had invested a year of rigorous preparation for this, making the setback even more disheartening.
In light of this, I suggested an alternative route to the AICF: the possibility of competing in the World Youth Championship in Italy. Interestingly, it appeared that AICF and Bharat Singh Ji also had a similar alternative in mind. They responded almost immediately, confirming within 30 minutes that our young players would indeed have a new opportunity to represent India on the international stage in Italy.
That said, it's imperative for FIDE and the Mexican embassy to take corrective measures. Countries with complex visa requirements need to be more proactive, especially when it comes to facilitating participation from chess strongholds like India. The plight of the Nepalese team, who also faced visa roadblocks, had to return back to Nepal from Delhi with heavy heart. This amplifies the need for an international solution to this issue. I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the AICF and Bharat Singh Ji for their swift and compassionate action, offering us a new path to demonstrate our talents despite the daunting challenges we faced."
Bhagyashree Patil, 3rd place in the MPL 51st National Junior Girls 2022
"It's really upsetting moment for us who did not get the visa, as we could not participate in such prestigious event like World Junior Chess Championship even after doing every possible thing along with such strong support from the AICF. I believe if the Mexico organizers had put some efforts, we would have gotten the visa. Honestly I never had any problems in getting visa for Tournaments, We had been in touch with multiple agents constantly but the problem- was not getting the appointment date as there was no response from the Mexican organization, I was playing Asian junior from there I come directly to Delhi and from past 3 days I'm here in the hope of getting the appointment date, this morning we all went to the Mexican embassy waited 2hrs still we could not appointment."
Femil Chelladurai, 3rd place in the MPL 50th National Junior Girls 2022
Hi I am Femil Chelladurai from Tamilnadu. It's a horrible moment for us who did not get the visa, as we could not participate in such prestigious event like World Junior Chess Championship even after doing every possible thing along with such strong support from the AICF. I believe if the Mexico organizers had put some efforts, we would have gotten the visa. Last year I had problem in getting visa for World junior Chess championship held at Italy but I got visa in the last moment but this time the problem was not getting the appointment date as there was no response from the Mexican organization, I came to Delhi yesterday to try one last time we all went to the Mexican embassy waited 2hrs still we could not get the appointment."