Tokyo Olympic hopes of Indian rowers in limbo as South Korea battles Coronavirus

The Rowing Federation of India recently uplifted the four-year ban on 28-year-old Dattu Baban Bhokanal, who won a gold medal at the 2018 Asiad.
The Rowing Federation of India recently uplifted the four-year ban on 28-year-old Dattu Baban Bhokanal, who won a gold medal at the 2018 Asiad.

What's the story?

The fate of the five Indian rowers is in limbo with the number of Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases rising rapidly in South Korea.

The background

The city of Chungju in South Korea was slated to host the Asia and Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta from April 27-30.

The event offers Tokyo Olympics quota places in lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls, men’s and women’s singles sculls, and para-rowing men’s and women’s singles sculls.

Each National Olympic Council (NOC) can send in a maximum of 24 rowers to Tokyo for participating in the quadrennial extravaganza.

The heart of the matter

Five Indian rowers, two coaches, two support staff, and an attendant for para rowers were to attend the event in Ghungju.

Many Indian rowers are currently preparing for the trials of this event that are set to take place on March 20. On the basis of these trials, the five rowers will be determined. The RFI (Rowing Federation of India) recently uplifted the four-year ban on 28-year-old Dattu Baban Bhokanal, who won a gold medal at the 2018 Asiad. He is also expected to take part in the upcoming trials.

India are aiming to secure at least a few Olympic berths with a good show at the Asian qualifiers.

However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, uncertainty looms over the event in South Korea. The RFI is monitoring this closely. Korean authorities have also postponed a few events due to the coronavirus. It remains to be seen if the Asian qualifiers will suffer the same fate or they will be moved out of India.

Speaking to HT, RFI President Rajlaxmi Singhdeo said:

"We are preparing for the event but are awaiting further instructions from the world body."

FISA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron) or The World Rowing Federation is trying to minimize the anxiety among various Olympic aspirants who will take part at the Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta.

An official statement from the World Body explained:

"As we are less than two months away from events scheduled in countries that currently have confirmed cases, namely the Republic of Korea and Italy, FISA (world body) is considering all possible actions and decisions. Over the next 48 hours, FISA will continue speaking with as many stakeholders as possible to understand the issues, particularly in the host countries of our events in April and May."

What's next?

FISA will be waiting for at least a few more days before taking a final call on the fate of the events in Korea and Italy. The release by the World Body further stated:

"The urgency of the situation is well understood and the safety of rowers and all participants is our number one concern."

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Edited by Abhimanyu Kulkarni
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