India will host the Asian Boxing Championships for men and women in November-December this year, the national federation revealed on Monday, expressing confidence that the COVID-19 pandemic will be well and truly under control by that time.
India last hosted the men's Asian meet back in 1980 in Mumbai, while it conducted the women's event in 2003 in Hisar. The tournament became a combined event for men and women last year. "We were awarded the hosting rights in February after a meeting of the Asian Boxing Confederation. The tournament will be held in November-December and the host city will be finalised after things normalise," Boxing Federation of India's (BFI) Executive Director R K Sacheti told PTI. "It is an extraordinary situation no doubt but we are all hoping for this to be brought under control by June. Then another three-four months will go into resuming normal activities," he said.
The event is usually a biennial competition but has been held in consecutive years in the past. "Bids were sought in January. The formal announcement by the Asian Boxing Confederation will be made once the COVID-19 situation improves a bit," Sacheti said. Nothing, in recent memory, quite compares to the situation that the world is facing right now -- more than 100,000 deaths by the spread of a virus, which has no known cure or vaccination available at this point. In India, the toll has crossed 300 and the number of positive cases is going up by hundreds everyday.
"The window we have kept for the championship allows us time to plan. The Olympic qualification programme is also likely to resume around November-December, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," Sacheti reasoned. "So, if things can start rolling elsewhere, we can also conduct the championship. That's why we haven't zeroed in on a host city right now. That discussion will have to wait until the end of the lockdown," he added.
India's lockdown to curb the spread of the virus ends on Tuesday but is set to be extended as state governments battle a surge in positive cases. The pandemic has shredded the international sports calendar with the two big-ticket events -- the Olympics and the European football Championships -- postponed to 2021 due to the global health crisis.
Training of athletes has been severely hampered and coaches have resorted to online tutorials, including in boxing.
"They (the boxers) are being looked after as best as we can under the circumstances. Coaches are keeping a close eye on their training," Sacheti said. "They have adjusted quite well to the situation and made routines of their own. Quite a disciplined lot," he added. So far, nine Indian boxers -- five men and four women -- have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.