CHENNAI: Indian wrestlers hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Games via the Asian qualifier don't have to travel to China as the event has been shifted to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The United World Wrestling (UWW) on Tuesday released an updated calendar for the year 2021. As per the updated calendar, it qualifier will now be held from April 9-11 in Almaty instead of March 26-28 in Xian, China.
"The United World Wrestling bureau held a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss several topics, including an update to the dates and locations of competitions in 2021," said a statement from UWW. "To help with costs and coordination, the bureau also voted to combine the Asian Championships and Olympic Qualifier to Almaty, Kazakhstan with the tournaments set to run back-to-back April 9-17."
Earlier, the Asian Championships was scheduled to run from February 16-21 at the same venue. The Olympic qualifying event via the last route — World qualifier — will remain in Sofia, Bulgaria, but has been moved one week later to May 6-9.
A total of four Indian wrestlers (1 woman, 3 freestyle male grapplers) have qualified for the Games so far, winning medals at the 2019 World Championships. As many as 14 more (5 women, 3 freestyle and 6 Greco-Roman) can still qualify via the two remaining qualifying pathways.
Apart from these tweaks, the world governing body has also postponed the Rome Ranking Series. The series was scheduled from January 14-17 in Rome. "Citing limited interest in a January competition, the bureau voted to move the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament from mid-January to March 4-7," read the statement.
Similarly, the African & Oceania Qualifier and African Championships will now be held back-to-back in El Jadida, Morocco from April 2-11. Due to travel concerns surrounding Covid-19, the Oceania continental championships have been cancelled.
The statement also said that due to the pandemic, all competition dates and locations will be subject to change based on the conditions in host countries as well as their ability to meet UWW’s strict sanitary guidelines for events.