As coronavirus rages in India, there is a growing concern within the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) about sending Olympic Games qualified boxers to Dubai for the Asian Boxing Championship this month.
Nine boxers have achieved Olympic quota places for the Tokyo Games scheduled to be held in July-August. The Dubai competition starts on May 21.
Of these quota winners, two — Simranjit Kaur (women 60 kg) and Ashish Kumar (men’s 75kg) — recently tested positive for Covid-19 and are on the road to recovery. While the BFI has completely ruled out Simranjit’s participation in the Dubai competition as she will complete 15-day quarantine a week before the continental event, Kumar could also be doubtful.
“Taking into account the safety of the boxers we shouldn’t send the team as health is more important than competing in an Asian meet that is only of academic interest," a senior official of the BFI told IANS.
“Team coaches should not push the boxers. If any boxer tests positive for Covid-19 during the Asian Boxing Championships, it would mean skipping 15 to 20 days of training close to the Tokyo Olympics," he emphasised.
In March, the Indian team competed in international tournaments in Spain and Turkey. During both events, elite boxers tested positive for Covid-19 and missed training.
Several boxers in the national camp in Patiala and New Delhi also have had bouts of Coronavirus.
Despite recovering from Coronavirus, Kumar (75 kg) was recently allowed to compete in an international event in Russia.
BFI’s team doctor Karanjit Singh said the health of all the boxers is being monitored. “In case of Kumar (75 kg), he was healthy to compete in Russia. That was the reason he participated in Russia," Singh said.
Barring Amit Panghal (52kg) — he won bronze at St. Petersburg Boxing Tournament last month - the seven other boxers bowed out in the first round of their weight groups.
Santiago Nieva, India’s High Performance director, said the competition in Russia was good preparation for the national team. “We had some good performances but we need to improve as well," Nieva said.