India the biggest loser as final taekwondo Olympic qualification tournament begins
As Jordan gears up to host the final qualifying event, India lost a great chance of making it to the Olympics for the first time ever.
As the final 16 spots will be decided starting today at the Asian qualifier event for the Tokyo Olympic taekwondo tournament, it goes without saying, India lost a great chance of fielding their athletes on the mat for the first time.
India shortlisted four athletes after a selection trial conducted by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on May 7. These players had to reach Jordan by May 19 but there was a 14-day quarantine in place already in the capital city of Amman for Indian athletes due to the outbreak of COVID-19 second wave in the country.
But in the whole episode, what was most surprising was the fact that the selection trials in Lucknow were held just 12 days prior to the tournament.
The Bridge reached out to a source in the taekwondo fraternity who said, "We have no idea who is to be blamed for this. Is this a shortcoming of the IOA or the Federation? If there was already a quarantine rule in place, the organizing committee must have been notified to the concerned authority over an email. In spite of that, why was the selection process delayed?"
He added, "How can India win a medal in other sports if we continue to neglect like this. What happened this time was an insult to athletes who earned spots with years of training."
While speaking to another source, we learnt, "Jordan Taekwondo Federation had apparently reached out to World Taekwondo on May 4 informing about the quarantine rules in place only for India and Nepal due to the rising cases. But if the tournament were supposed to start on May 19, we did not have enough time to conduct the selection trials."
Kempinski Hotel will conduct the bouts which will see 84 athletes and 28 countries take part with finalists in 8 divisions to book a quota spot in Japan. The men will compete at under-58 kilograms, under-68kg, under-80kg and over-80kg. The women will lock horns at under-49kg, under-57kg, under-67kg and over-67kg.
No Indian taekwondo player has ever qualified for an Olympics. The four players who were unlucky this time were Kashish Malik (57 kg) and Margerette Regi (+67kg) among women while in the men's category, Navjeet Singh Mann (80kg) and Akshay Hooda (68 kg) were selected to participate.