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Pandemic forces BFI to postpone 3-day national selection trials

An Indian boxer (L) in action at Tokyo Olympics
An Indian boxer (L) in action at Tokyo Olympics
Navneet Singh

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has postponed the national selection trials scheduled for February 10-12 as the boxers aren’t fully prepared due to the pandemic. According to Hemanta Kumar Kalita, secretary general of the BFI, several boxers were quarantined earlier in January for having COVID-19 symptoms.

The elite men and women’s boxing camp got underway in the first week of January in preparation for major international competitions and will continue until the first week of March.

The national trials were to be conducted as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) wanted the names of the national boxing team for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in July.

“Since the IOA has agreed to shift the February 28 deadline to compete at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the BFI has also postponed the trials until further notice,” Kalita explained to Sportskeeda on Thursday.

The BFI shortlisted as many as 60 elite men’s probables for the national camp being conducted at Patiala’s National Institute of Sports.

While the men’s national camp is being held in Patiala, the elite national women’s boxing camp is in progress at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex in New Delhi. Two female boxers at the camp in Delhi have also tested positive.

Out of the 60 boxers shortlisted for the national camp, nearly half tested positive for COVID-19. Chief national coach Narendra Rana and national boxing camp coordinator CA Kuttappa are among the half-a-dozen coaching staff who have had symptoms of COVID-19. The coaching staff was quarantined for a week.

“The BFI should take note of the several COVID-19 cases in the camp," one of the boxers in the camp told Sportskeeda on condition of anonymity. "It takes time to recover and get back to normal training."

Kalita said they are aware of the problems faced by the boxers due to the pandemic. The BFI will soon announce fresh dates for the national trials.

“We will give at least 15 days notice in advance to boxers so that they are physically and mentally prepared to give their best during the national trials," added Kalita.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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