Politicising exchanges: On China using sporting events to score geopolitical points

China’s denial of entry to Arunachal athletes shows up the distrust in ties

This is, unfortunately, not the first instance of Beijing using sporting events that should have no place for politics to score geopolitical points. In February last year, Beijing ill-advisedly selected the People’s Liberation Army’s commander involved in the Galwan Valley clash as one of the torchbearers for the Winter Olympics. Both then and now, the organisers have appeared more than happy to look the other way given China’s status as both a willing host and strong financial backer of such events. The acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Randhir Singh, who met with President Xi in Hangzhou, in remarks to journalists chose not to call out the denial of entry to athletes, instead only saying the matter was being discussed. Beyond the Asian Games, the latest Chinese action serves as a reminder of the current distrust in bilateral relations, as well as of the absence of adequate channels of communication to deal with long-persisting thorny issues, including visas. New Delhi has correctly made clear that restoring normalcy in relations will not be possible without completing the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control and restoring peace in border areas. Until Beijing reviews its stance on the border, the current state of affairs, which suits neither India nor China, is likely to endure.