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India deny China visa for Asian Wrestling Championships

Sayan Mukherjee

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Wrestling

New Delhi: Fears of Coronavirus denied China a chance to compete at the Asian Wrestling Championships, which begins in the Capital on Tuesday.

The Indian government is unlikely to grant visas to Chinese wrestlers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifying event. A 40-member strong contingent was expected to land in New Delhi for the continental event.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is yet to be informed about their availability, its assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told Sports Lounge.

“We haven’t received any intimation regarding visa of Chinese wrestlers,” Tomar said.

“Health is primary in this case. Sports is secondary. When there are fatal concerns then it is unlikely to be ignored just for the sake of a sporting competition,” Tomar said.

“And this issue isn’t necessarily India’s concern. But this coronavirus phenomenon is worldwide. Many countries have denied visa to Chinese people, including Australia. So how can India suddenly allow them?

“Hence I don’t think they would be given visas,” he added.

Fearing sanctions from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the wrestling world body United World Wrestling (UWW) for denying visas to wrestlers in Olympic year, the WFI left it to the government to decide the fate of applications from China and Pakistan.

India has granted entry to Pakistan’s six-member contingent but didn’t allow UWW employee China’s Li Ling and hasn’t issued visas to Chinese nationals since January 15.

North Korea, who were scheduled to arrive in India via China, earlier pulled out of the event.

The deadly virus has played havoc with sporting events in China, with several Olympic qualifiers of different sporting disciplines and other standalone sports forced either to be postponed or moved away from the country.

The virus has claimed the lives of over 1,500 people so far and concerns have been raised over the Tokyo Games in Japan, to be held in July and August.

All eyes on Punia, Vinesh

India’s hopes would rest on World No.2 and defending champion Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Vinesh Phogat. The host country will field a 30-member team in the tournament, which will stretch till 23rd Feb.

India won 16 medals in the last edition at Xi’an, China. The wrestlers would be competing in the men’s freestyle, greco-roman and women’s wrestling sections as the tournament returns to India after two years.

The Schedule:

18th Feb – Tuesday – Finals Greco-Roman – 55-63-77-87-130 kg

19th Feb – Wednesday – Finals matches GR – 60-67-72-82-97 kg

20th Feb – Thursday – Finals WW – 50-55-59-68-76 kg

21st Feb – Friday – Finals WW – 53-57-62-65-72 kg

22nd Feb – Saturday – Finals FS – 57-65-70-79-97 kg

23rd Feb – Sunday – Finals FS – 61-74-86-92-125 kg

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Sayan Mukherjee is the Content Head at Sports Lounge. He has over 10 years of experience in sports journalism (print and digital) having worked for some of the leading media organisations in the country including The Statesman, The Asian Age, IANS and Sports Illustrated.