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Asian Boxing Championships in jeopardy due to India’s COVID-19 crisis

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The regional showcase event is scheduled for next month as India’s health crisis worsens.

(SP)CHINA-HEBEI-QIAN’AN-BOXING-NATIONAL WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS(CN) Xinhua/Ou Dongqu via Getty Images

The Asian Amateur Boxing Championships, scheduled to begin May 21st in Delhi, may be compromised or cancelled due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.

India is in the middle of a COVID-19 surge, seeing daily records for infections and deaths, and widespread shortages of hospital beds and critical medical supplies. Over the weekend, Indian health officials extended what was originally supposed to be a one-week lockdown in Delhi through at least May 3rd.

Delhi’s extended lockdown would end, at most, a little over two weeks before the scheduled start of the tournament, leaving neighboring nations questioning their participation. The Indo-Asian News Service (similar to the Associated Press for the Indian subcontinent) quotes a Boxing Federation of India official as saying:

“(T)he prevailing situation is so scary that participating countries wouldn’t like to travel to New Delhi, which is one of the hotspots for coronavirus in India”

The Championships were already postponed from November of 2020 due to COVID-19 issues. The tournament has been a vital training ground for Asian Olympians and a springboard for notable pro champions such as Gennadiy Golovkin and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, gold medalists in 2004 and 2017, respectively.

In the U.S., declining infection rates and widespread vaccination efforts have allowed boxing to take tentative steps towards relaxed protocols and public attendance in recent months, including a bold 60,000+ person petri dish experiment planned for May 8th in Texas.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has created havoc among the Indian Olympic boxing teams. 21 members of the women’s national camp, including at least one Tokyo qualifier, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past month. Ten members of the men’s camp tested positive in late February and March.

If the tournament does happen as scheduled, it would wrap up just 53 days before the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics.