NEW DELHI - The Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports (ACBS) has cancelled the Indian leg of the Asian Tour 10 Reds Snooker tournament due to concerns over the possible refusal of visas to Pakistani and Pakistan-origin participants in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.

Earlier this week, a three-member Pakistani shooting contingent was denied visas to compete in the ongoing ISSF Rif le and Pistol World Cup here, a development that irked the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A miffed IOC shot off a strongly worded letter to India, asking for written assurances from the government for smooth entry into the country of all athletes of the participating nations, or else risk losing out on hosting international events.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had instructed all sporting federations to “neither award nor hold” sports events in India until they receive written assurances from the government that participants from all nations will be guaranteed entry. However, Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) Secretary S Balasubramiam denied there was any connection between the cancellation of the snooker tournament - scheduled to be held in Bengaluru in the last week of March - and the IOC’s directives. “The decision came much before the IOC issued a statement,” he said.

Balasubramiam explained that since six of the 24 players were either Pakistani or Pakistani-origin and had “problems with their visas”, the Asian Tour had been called off by the ACBS board. “In the absence of these players, there was no point in having a tournament, so they did not want to have it.” A senior BSFI official was quoted as saying that Pakistani-born Qatari player Ahmed Saif was among those not granted a visa to participate in the Bengaluru event.

The first two legs of the Asian Snooker Tour were held in Qatar and China. India was supposed to be the last leg of the tour. The BSFI official, however, said the local organisers of the event, Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA), is planning to host another international event without Pakistani players around the same time.

“The KSBA is exploring another international event as they have already approved the budget for the Asian Tour from the state government,” Subramaniam said. Sporting activities in the country involving Pakistani players were badly affected in the aftermath the terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel on February 14.

Pakistan Billiard and Snooker Association (PBSA) President Munawar Shaikh on Monday confirmed that the regional body had scrapped the Indian leg of the tour. He added that the local federation had lodged a protest with the ACBS over the conduct of the Indian government.