Twenty competitors were injured, three of them seriously, in the popular ‘Jallikattu’ (taming the bull) event held at nearby Palamedu as part of Pongal harvest festival.

The participants were injured when they tried to tame the charging bulls by clinging on to their backs, police said, adding all the injured were treated as outpatients.

Earlier, the event got off to a rousing start with the participation of 700 bulls from various parts of the state.

Thousands of people, including foreigners, had gathered at the venue here to witness the traditional sport of rural Tamil Nadu, held as part of the Pongal festival annually.

About 1500 policemen were deployed at the event, which was held as per Supreme Court guidelines, issued in the wake of complaints from animal rights activists about cruelty to the animals, besides casualties among spectators.

The event organisers said six bulls were rejected from participating in the event, as their horns were found to be too sharp.

According to the apex court directives, all bulls were medically examined prior to the event, a coir pith spread across the path the bulls took to minimise injury and the entire area for spectators barricaded, they said.

Medical and veterinary teams were also stationed at the venue, they said.