COVID impact: Boxing's Asian Championship moved from Delhi to Dubai

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) The Asian Boxing Championship, which was scheduled to be held here next month, was on Wednesday moved to Dubai because of the deepening COVID-19 crisis in India but the national federation will remain a co-host along with its UAE counterpart.

The tournament was to be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium from May 21 to 31 in the national capital, which is recording over 20,000 daily cases right now.

'In the wake of international travel restrictions to India, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), in consultation with Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC), has decided to conduct the upcoming 2021 edition of the ASBC Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships in Dubai,' the BFI said in a statement.

In a communication to all its members, the ASBC stated that the upcoming edition of the championships will now take place between May 21 and June 1.

'The event will now be organised by BFI in association with UAE Boxing Federation,' BFI stated.

The daily addition of over 3 lakh new cases has led to several countries imposing bans on flights to and from India, which would have been a logistical nightmare for the BFI to deal with.

'...with the newly-imposed international travel restrictions from many countries due to the prevailing pandemic situation, BFI and ASBC jointly took a decision to relocate the tournament,' the BFI said.

The national body's President Ajay Singh said it was a difficult decision but one that had to be taken.

'It's unfortunate that we have to shift the venue out of India. We were very keen to host the championships in Delhi but we are left with no options,' he said.

'Boxers' safety is the most important concern for us and hence we had to take this decision. We closely monitored the situation and after deliberation with ASBC as well as the Government of India, we decided to conduct the tournament in Dubai,' he added.

The Indian men's team for the event is yet to be announced but the women's team has been named and will be spearheaded by the iconic M C Mary Kom (51kg).

However, the shift has caused a bit of unrest.

'There has been no training ever since positive COVID cases came to light at the IG stadium and the camp was shut down. I don't know how we are going pull it off,' said a camp source in the know of things.

Several boxers and support staff at the women's national camp had tested positive for the virus earlier this month, leading to the suspension of the preparatory camp for the event.

'I am still wondering how will a bubble be created in a situation like this to take us to Dubai. The camp has effectively disbanded and all boxers are on their own right now,' the source said. PTI PM AT AT