New Delhi: Boxer Vijender Singh has backed Boxing Federation of India's (BFI) proposal to host next month's Asia/Oceania round of Olympic qualifiers in the national capital following the cancellation of the event in Wuhan following the outbreak of coronavirus.
The capital of China’s Hubei province is being dubbed as the epicentre of this pneumonia-like virus, with the first death being reported early this month. Besides boxing, the city was also due to host the Asian women's football qualifiers (3-9 February) for the Tokyo Games. While the Asian Football Confederation has already announced shifting of football event on the same dates to the eastern city of Nanjing, there is no word yet on the rescheduling of the boxing event, due to be held between 3-14 February.
The BFI, meanwhile, has thrown its hat in the ring with its president Ajay Singh having written to the chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Task Force (Boxing) Morinari Watanabe. "...due to any reason, if the event is to be shifted to a different country, Boxing Federation of India would be willing to host this year's Asian and Oceania Qualification Event," read Singh's letter.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised by Special Olympics Bharat, Vijender, a three-time Olympian and a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Games, welcomed the development. "If the qualifiers come to India, it will be a big shot in the arm for our boxers. I am sure a lot more Indian boxers will make the cut, because home support is a big factor."
Should the event comes to India, it will be the first instance of the country hosting boxing qualifiers for Olympics. Prior to this, New Delhi has hosted the 2006 and 2018 editions of the women's World Championships, and the city is set to host its maiden men's World Championships next year.
India have so far won just two Olympic medals in boxing — MC Mary Kom is the other bronze medallist (London, 2012) — but things are looking upbeat as Olympics draw closer. Last year, Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik returned with a silver and a bronze medal from the World Championships, while women came home with one silver (Manju Rani), and three bronze medals (Mary Kom, Jamuna Boro, and Lovlina Borgohain).
Asked to comment on India's chances at the qualifiers, Vijender refused to pick favourites, but said he has high hopes from the contingent.
"I don't want to put our boxers under undue pressure by taking names. I think we have a strong squad and I have high hopes from the entire contingent. I wish them all the best, and I am sure they'll do well," the professional boxer-cum-politician said.
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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2020 14:44:57 IST