India’s Mary Kom-led boxing contingent, currently training in Assisi for the Olympic boxing qualifiers to be held in Amman early next month, is looking to leave the country at the earliest following the rise of coronavirus cases in the northern part of Italy.
RK Sacheti, Executive Director of the Boxing Federation of India, stated on Tuesday that the contingent has planned to prepone their arrival in Jordan amidst the recent turn of events, which has been leading to the closure of airports in Italy.
"Rome airport is completely operational, and we will get information in an hour to when the team will depart. The team can fly down to Jordan either today or tomorrow. The team is currently in the Assisi Olympic centre," Sacheti was quoted saying by ANI.
"We talked with officials in Jordan, and they have told us to send our team down to Jordan,” he added. “No need to panic. We are ready, we have already blocked the seats.”
The Indian boxing team was to leave for Jordan on 28 February but with the latest development, even the national boxing federation’s High-Performance Director, Santiago Nieva, wants his athletes to depart for the Olympic qualifiers at the earliest fearing a lockdown in Milan.
"We were leaving on Friday, but I think we need to prepone (brought forward). If we do not leave at the earliest, then we might be stuck here. If they close the airport, then we would not be able to go for the qualifiers," Santiago said.
Coronavirus keeping athletes on their feet
The coronavirus outbreak in early February had forced the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) to shift the boxing qualifiers from China’s Wuhan to Jordan in the first place.
China is the origin of the COVID-19, the official name of the coronavirus, due to which several sporting events have been pushed out of the country in the last few weeks.
Apart from boxing, Asian Champions League matches in football, the World Athletics Indoor Championships, the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event in lawn tennis, the China Masters tournament in badminton, a Hockey Pro-League match and many other sporting events have been shifted out of China.
The latest tournament to get afflicted due to the coronavirus scare is the ITTF event in Busan, in South Korea, where the Indian table tennis team was supposed to compete. The tournament, initially scheduled on March 22-29, is now postponed to June 21-28.
India boxing squad for Olympic qualifiers
The Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifiers has been rescheduled to take place from March 3 to 11 in Jordan’s Amman.
India’s men’s contingent will have Amit Panghal (52kg), Gaurav Solanki (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) representing the country.
The women’s squad will be highlighted by Mary Kom coming back to the 51kg category, apart from Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg).