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Dhaka Tribune

Italian Embassy, chess federation blame each other

Embassy says visa application documents were not enough to guarantee the return of the junior players

Update : 25 Oct 2022, 04:05 PM

The Italian Embassy in Dhaka has said that they did not issue visas for the seven chess players, participating in the Fide World Junior Chess Championship, since the applications lacked proper documents, a claim sharply refuted by the Bangladesh authorities.

“The players were all minors being a junior competition and there were not enough documented guarantees according to Schengen and Italian rules on the guardianship during the intended stay in Italy,” Ambassador Enrico Nunziata told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.

The event will be held in Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea, from October 11 to 23.

The seven players participating from Bangladesh Chess Federation are Subrota Biswas, Noshin Anjum, Jannatul Ferdous, Neelava Choudhury, Walijah Ahmed, Wadifa Ahmed and Shadat Kibria Ayaan. Of them, Walijah is the national junior champion.

Mahmuda Chowdhury Moly, the head of the delegation, told Dhaka Tribune that the embassy had rejected the applications suspecting that the players would not return to Bangladesh.

Ambassador Enrico Nunziata said it was incorrect to claim that the Embassy of Italy has a restrictive policy in issuing visas.

“The Embassy of Italy remains very vigilant when the request of [sic] visas is related to minors who are not travelling with their own parents,” he added.

Regarding the incomplete applications, Moly said: “It's totally wrong. I told him (embassy official) that we could do that if we had to submit additional documents. He told me that they would not give us permission even if I submitted a thousand documents.”

She said they had submitted the documents through an agency. “We first gave them stamped documents for the juniors, but the visa centre told us that these documents won't work. According to their directives, we managed written documents and permission from the court through a first-class registrar. We also submitted these documents to the embassy.”

Moly explained that the two players above 18 also did not get visas. “The rest of the players are below 18. We managed permission for them from the court. They could provide visas to the two players who are above 18 and me,” she said.

On Saturday, Moly told Dhaka Tribune that they had applied for the visas with the necessary documents on September 18, but had not got any response despite sending emails and making phone calls.

Also Read: Chess team denied visa to play in Italy

“Then I went to the embassy. An official met me there and said they refused all passports. They suspected that if the players went to Italy, they wouldn't come back,” said Moly. “The players were preparing under grandmasters. They need to play in such tournaments.”

Visa issuance tripled

The Italian envoy on Sunday also said: “We remain keen in promoting and supporting people-to-people contacts…however, of course, the requested documents for visas must be provided in the correct way and must be genuine.”

He also explained that the embassy's visa office was doing its “utmost to process all files as fast as possible” despite having a huge workload.

This year (till October 9), the Embassy of Italy has issued 15,412 visas compared to 5,686 in the same period of 2021 and 12.456 in 2019. In particular, 4,835 were work visas, 4,988 family reunion visas, 328 study/university visas, 1,706 business visas, and 2,592 tourism visas, many of which were multiannual.

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