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No Chinese participation in Asian wrestling championships

Ready to rock: Bajrang’s progress will be watched with interest at the Asian meet.

Ready to rock: Bajrang’s progress will be watched with interest at the Asian meet.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The 40-member contingent denied visas due to health concerns, explain WFI officials

China will not be present at the senior Asian wrestling championships starting here on Tuesday and the biggest gainers will be the Indian women.

Although there has been no official word from the government, the 40-member Chinese contingent had not been provided visas till late Monday evening with no further development on the issue. China has been facing an epidemic outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.

The WFI officials admitted that health concerns had led to the decision.

‘No risks’

“Several participating nations had asked for clarity on China’s participation and had even expressed reservations about coming in case the Chinese wrestlers were entered.

“It is a global concern right now and we cannot take any risks with the health of the wrestlers. Sports is, after all, meant for fitness,” a senior WFI official explained.

Asked whether this might lead to the United World Wrestling (UWW) taking exception, the official denied it.

“It would have been an issue if we had denied Pakistan, but that is sorted. This is a health concern not just for us but the entire world right now. It is an exceptional situation,” he said.

Rijiju clarifies

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju insisted that it was purely a health concern.

“As part of the Olympic Charter, we cannot deny visas to anyone for a competition.

“But there are separate provisions for health or technical issues,” he clarified.

Pakistan, meanwhile, is expected to arrive on Tuesday with its four freestyle wrestlers and two officials.

Biggest attraction

The biggest attraction, however, will undoubtedly be the World No. 2 and India’s biggest Olympic hope Bajrang Punia in the 65kg freestyle competition.

Given that the event would be a ranking tournament for the upcoming Olympic Qualifier and would affect the seeding for the latter, a good performance here would help the defending champion get an easier outing.

The glamour boys of freestyle, however, will be in action over the weekend, the six-day event kicking off with the Greco-Roman competition the first two days followed by the women’s bouts at the K.D. Jadhav Stadium.

While India has traditionally been weak in the category, it managed three finalists and four medals, out of a total of 16, in 2019.

Sajan Bhanwal (77kg) and Harpreet Singh (82kg) will be the biggest hopes this time around.

India has four Olympic spots with Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) and Vinesh Phogat (women’s, 53kg) being the other three.

Qualifier to be shifted?

Meanwhile, the Asian Olympic Qualifier, scheduled to be held in the Xi’an province of China from March 27 to 29, is also likely to be shifted with Mongolia and Kazakhstan in the fray to host the same along with India.

A final decision will be taken in the coming week.

“Obviously, we hope we get it but Kazakhstan had successfully hosted the World Championships last year. Let’s see,” said a WFI official.

Tuesday’s schedule:

Greco-Roman: 55kg, 63kg, 77kg, 87kg, 130kg.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 3:48:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/no-chinese-participation-in-asian-wrestling-championships/article30844657.ece

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