Bizarre events were seen at the International Pegging World Cup Qualifiers, as all four players who represented Nepal in the tournament turned out to be Indian.
In an event that ran from March 16 to 18 in India, five teams were said to have participated.
The tournament was organized by the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI), along with Equiwings Sports, under the aegis of the International Tent Pegging Federation (ITPF).
India won 6 gold, 1 bronze and collected 515 points, and was selected for the World Cup. The 2023 World Cup is being hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Pakistan, Belarus, India, USA, and Nepal were said to have participated in the tournament.
Nepal Equestrian Council says it did not send any team and neither was informed about the tournament. However, Nepal finished third in the tournament.
Indian News Media, Times of India was the first to break the news. Times of India reported the players who represented Nepal were Indian players and were registered without their Last Names.
EFI secretary-general Col. Jaiveer Singh blamed Nepal saying Nepal okayed the names and India did not think it a necessity for the background check of players since, Nepali people don't require visas or passports in India.
On the other hand, the Times of India quoted its sources, “Due to the prevailing Covid situation, the visas of Pakistan and USA teams were getting delayed. But as per ITPF rules, a minimum of four teams have to participate for a valid World cup qualifier to take place. That's why a team of Indian riders in the name of Nepal was made up and entered for the event. As those riders were known to many people present at the venue, questions were naturally raised as to how these Indian riders got permission to represent Nepal.”
Nepal's Olympic Committee and Equestrian council have rejected the claim hinting this to be wrong conduct by Indian officials.
Nepal Olympic Committee said that no Nepali players were selected or sent for the competition.
Ravi Rajkarnikar, president of the Nepal Equestrian Association told our correspondent in Nepal, “We don't know why they played Indian citizens as Nepalis. We have not sent any athletes.”
He said neither the Nepal Sports council, nor the Olympic Council nor the Equestrian Association was notified about the matter and no players had been approved by the sports council.
International Tent Pegging Federation is investigating the matter.