Camp for Tokyo-bound women wrestlers shelved

Top wrestlers are not willing to travel to Lucknow for the national camp due to the corona pandemic.

By Naveen Peter

The national wrestling camp for Olympic-bound women grapplers, scheduled for a September 1 start in Lucknow, has been postponed, the Sports Authority of India announced on Saturday.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had slated the men’s camp in Sonepat, Haryana while the women’s camp was to be held at the SAI Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

“To my knowledge, there is a serious spike in corona cases in Lucknow and I don’t want to risk myself,” the reigning Asian champion in the 68kg category, Divya Kakran, was quoted saying by the Hindustan Times.

“I am satisfied with my training at the Guru Prem Nath Akahara in New Delhi as I have my own mechanism of safety here -- proper sanitisation, hand wash and other measures to keep myself protected from the coronavirus,” Divya added.

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat was the first to raise concerns about attending the national camp. Photo: UWW

World championships bronze medallist Vinesh Phogat too has decided to stay away from the camp due to health reasons.

“My stomach is pretty sensitive. You can’t go out of the SAI centre in Lucknow, so you can’t get yourself a few things which you need. In Lucknow, cases are rising but it’s safe in Haryana, so I am more comfortable here,” Phogat told the Press Trust of India.

Bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sakshi Malik, however, had chosen to wait and watch before communicating her decision to the WFI.

"What is the point of joining the camp if there is no competition? I got to know that many girls have refused to join the camp, so what will I do there and train with whom?" Sakshi Malik told IANS recently.

While the Indian women wrestlers made their intentions clear about returning to the camp, SAI said that the authorities in Lucknow were prepared to welcome the Indian squad with special arrangements in place to aid the athletes.

“All kind of safety kits, exclusive stay arrangements, 24x7 sanitisation plan, setting up of additional CCTVs to keep a vigil on the campers (especially during the quarantine period) have been made,” an SAI official had said.