Ending days of uncertainty, the Indian boxing team has been cleared to participate in the Asian championships starting in Dubai on May 24. The participation was doubtful due to the travel ban imposed on Indians because of the second wave of coronavirus pandemic.
The Asian meet was originally scheduled in Delhi but was shifted to Dubai due to the raging pandemic in India. India are designated co-hosts.
“This tournament is very important for our preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. We have been in Patiala for some time now and the boxers need some motivation,” the Indian team’s high performance director Santiago Nieva said.
“As per our plan, it will be the last tournament for our boxers because there is no other event. Countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are sending their full team and will have boxers who have qualified for the Olympics. It will be a good competition for us before Tokyo.”
The Indian squad comprises 20 boxers (10 men, 10 women). Among the five Tokyo-bound boxers, defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg), Vikash Krishan (69kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) will compete. Manish Kaushik (63kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) will not travel. Having tested positive for COVID, they will take some time for full recovery. Shiva Thapa has replaced Kaushik in the squad.
All the four Olympic-bound women boxers—MC Mary Kom (51kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Simranjeet Kaur (60kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) –are part of the squad.
The Indians are expected to reach Dubai on May 22 and will be issued visas on arrival.
“We are thankful to the UAE government, Indian ambassador to UAE Pavan Kapoor and Asian Boxing Confederation president Anas Alotaiba who helped us secure the team’s travel to Dubai,” Boxing Federation of India president Ajai Singh said. “This is much needed competition for the final phase of training and preparation.”