IOA hopes to have kho kho included in the Asian Games roster

The IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta is working towards getting the traditional Indian sport included in the 2026 Asian Games Games to be hosted by Nagoya, Japan.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

If things are to go as per plan, traditional Indian sport kho kho might feature in the 2026 Asian Games. 

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta is hopeful that that sport, recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia in 2018, will soon be granted a full status making it eligible to be included in the roster of events for the 2026 Games to be hosted by Nagoya, Japan.

“Kho Kho was formally recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia during the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018. I hope it gets full status in the 2026 Asian Games,” said Mehta, who is also the president of the Asian Kho Kho Federation.

“My dream is to see Kho Kho eventually grow to the level of Commonwealth Games and Olympics.”

Kho kho hopes to make it big

Meanwhile the chief of the international kho kho body, Sudhanshu Mittal said that he was hoping to see the game feature in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China as a ‘demonstration game’.

Kho kho is currently played by 25 countries across the world and the IOA secretary general informed that efforts were made to help more nations take up the sport at the international level.

Kho kho is a traditional team sport from Maharashtra played among two teams of 12 players each. Photo: Khelo India

One of the moves in this direction has seen the Kho Kho Federation of India conduct the first-ever ‘Level 1’ international coaching camps for all the affiliated countries, helping them with the technical support that’s needed for a robust development of the sport. 

“The first phase of the camp is currently underway at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. We have about 66 players from 16 countries participating in it. However, nine countries could not participate this time due to the coronavirus outbreak. But we plan to have a phase II of the camp to be held in London later this year,” he said.

What is kho kho?

A traditional team sport from Maharashtra, kho-kho is played among two teams of 12 players each. Nine take the field in a match with the other three being substitutes.

A kho kho match consists of two innings, each nine minutes long. The chasing team will have eight of its players sit on their knees in the middle of the court with adjacent members facing opposite directions.

Meanwhile, the runners from the opponent’s side -- three at a time -- will take to the field to ensure not being tagged out during the innings. The team with the least number of tags at the end of the two innings is declared the winner. 

At the international stage, three Asian Kho-Kho Championships have been held so far (India 1996, 2016 and Bangladesh 2000) while the fourth edition is scheduled to be held in India later this year.