July 22 (NIE) A Sri Lankan karate team, which was here to attend a two-day International Karate Tournament, had to abruptly leave the country following a threat by the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK) to disrupt their participation and stay.
The team comprised two trainers and two karate players. Incidentally, an organiser of the two-day tournament that began on Saturday claimed that two of the team members from the island nation were ethnic Tamils.
On learning about the participation of the Lankan team, the PDK held an emergency meeting on Friday evening and decided to besiege the KKG Kalayana Mandapam in Pollachi, the tournament venue.
The PDK also warned that the players and trainers would not be allowed to stay at a private resort in Ambarampalayam, said K S Nagarajan, the district secretary.
Tamil Nadu Development Sport Karate Association president S Panchalingam said that apart from Sri Lanka, teams from Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan had lined up for the tourney.
"We asked the Lankan team which arrived at Chennai airport on Friday night, to return after the PDK had announced its protest."
"This incident will affect the participation of Indian karate players in future tournaments in Sri Lanka. We sympathise with the agitators who are concerned about the plight of the ethnic Tamils," he said.
"But ironically, two players were of ethnic Tamil origin. I spoke to one of them this morning to inform him not to come to Coimbatore. I felt bad when he said that he was keen on participating in the tournament as it was difficult for Tamils to play in Sri Lanka due to discrimination by the Sinhalese," Panchalingam said.