WFI president: Wrestlers from Pakistan, China will get visas for Asian C’ships

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh says a 40-member contingent from China had been quarantined by its national federation and posed no threat.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (right): “No problem should be there for both the countries in getting visas.”   -  Sushil Kumar Verma (File Photo)

Even as the world grapples with the coronavirus, the Wrestling Federation of India is confident of the government allowing the Chinese delegation for the upcoming Asian Championships here.

India has stopped e-visa facility for Chinese visitors and there are doubts about their participation due to health concerns since wrestling is a contact sport with a high possibility of infection. “Chinese officials have claimed that the 40-member delegation has been tested and quarantined and cleared of any infections. Even if they do come, they will have to follow the due process of being tested on arrival,” WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said here on Wednesday.

He added that the federation had already written to the MEA and was confident of getting a positive response for both Chinese and Pakistani delegations. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, however, said a final call would be taken by the MEA in consultation with the Health Ministry. “We cannot take any risk for ours or any other wrestler especially in an Olympic year. It is an extraordinary situation and we will act accordingly,” Rijiju said.

The Asian Championships from February 18-23 here would see participation from around 20 countries in 30 categories across Freestyle, Greco-Roman and Women’s wrestling. India had 16 medals in the previous edition and the WFI is hopeful of doing better this time around.

Selections based on performance

Asked about Sushil Kumar's chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Games, Singh insisted that the federation would not allow a repeat of the 2016 fiasco and controversies that saw India unrepresented in the 74kg category at the Rio Games. “We are very clear about the selection process this time around and it’s all very transparent. We had decided that those who qualify for the Olympics would not have to give any trials barring exceptional circumstances including injury.

“As for other weight categories, performances in the Ranking Series event (in Rome recently) and the Asian Championships would be considered before taking a final call. Performance, for us, means a medal in these events. If it is satisfactory, they will go on to participate in the Asian Olympic Qualifier. Else, we may hold trials,” he added. Four Indians have qualified so far for the Tokyo Games.

The WFI had named the squad for the two events, along with the Asian Olympic Qualifier in China, after trials on January 3. Sushil had pulled out citing injury. The dates and venue for Olympic Qualifier, however, remains uncertain due to coronavirus with the WFI expressing its willingness to host the same.

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