Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta on 16 March said he is hopeful that Kho Kho, a traditional Indian sport, will be included in the 2026 Asian Games roster scheduled to be held in Japan.
Kho Kho is currently played by 25 countries across the globe. “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,” Mehta, who is also the Asian Kho Kho Federation President, said.
“My dream is to see Kho Kho eventually grow to the level of Commonwealth Games and Olympics.” International Kho Kho Federation President Sudhanshu Mittal also exuded confidence that the sport will be included in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, as a ‘demonstration game’.
A popular tag game invented in Maharashtra, kho kho is played by teams of 12 nominated players out of 15, of which nine enter the field. Six of them on their knees (chasing team), and three extra (defending team) try to avoid being touched by members of the opposing team. Three Asian Kho Kho championships have been held so far — India (1996, 2016) and Bangladesh (2000). The fourth edition will again be held in India in August later this year, a release said.
As part of bilateral promotion, Kho Kho ‘test matches’ have been played between India and England and India and Nepal and the next ‘test match’ is planned between India and Sri Lanka. Mehta said coaches have been deputed in several countries including South Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Singapore and Sri Lanka to train players internationally. He further informed that Kho Kho Federation of India is conducting the first-ever ‘Level 1’ international coaching camps in two phases to give technical support to all the affiliated countries. The first phase (February 23 to March 20), in which 66 players from 16 countries are being trained on mats, is currently underway at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. “Nine countries could not participate in the first phase, currently underway at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, due to the Coronavirus outbreak,” Mehta said. “They will be invited to the second phase of coaching to be organised in London in May-June, this year.” Talking about the ‘Ultimate Kho Kho League’, Mehta said it will be held from November 27 to December 20 this year in Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad. “Eight teams will make the quorum for the ‘Ultimate Kho Kho League’,” Mehta said.