AN increasingly international calendar and packed spring schedule claimed a couple of casualties at the Indian Open as Ali Carter and Marco Fu failed to get their visas in time.

Both players therefore could not take up their place in the draw, handing walkovers in this case to Mark Joyce and Stuart Carrington respectively in Mumbai into the last 32.

Clearly having two such top players, both ranking event winners, in the tournament but not actually able to make it past the red tape stage is unsatisfactory for all concerned.

The event could scarcely afford any more absentees with already Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire among those not in attendance.

Even Judd Trump only made it by the skin of his teeth, not actually receiving his visa until the Friday before travelling to India over the weekend.

The European Tour event in Poland so soon before India, with potentially trips to Thailand and China shortly after, tested the visa application process to its limits for the snooker fraternity.

Many Chinese players, to avoid an eight-week wait applying for an India visa from London, went back home where it was quicker but for several that required missing Poland.

The tightness of the schedule these days means there is little or no margin for error on the administration side, from both players and operational staff.

Any mistakes can be costly, and hardly anyone understands the full complexities of the India visa application system which saw people arrive on an eclectic mix of business, conference and tourist visas for the tournament.

For the playing professionals though, making sure the visas are in place is a dull but necessary part of the job. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how well you are playing, if you’re not allowed in the country you won’t be picking up any prize money.

Some players have invested in a second passport, many have not as yet – and in terms of doing the most to help themselves avoid such situations, as long as the calendar continues to expand internationally along similar lines that is looking as much an essential bit of kit as a cue extension.


Photograph by Monique Limbos