The Indian wrestlers will prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday announced that the women’s national wrestling camp will commence on the 10th of October at the SAI Centre in Lucknow. The same announcement also warned the wrestlers that those missing the camp won’t be considered for national team selection.

Initially, the camp was supposed to begin on September 1 but was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, athletes were concerned for their safety and well-being as grapplers – Vinesh Phogat and Deepak Punia tested positive for the coronavirus, which must have sowed even more doubt and apprehension in the minds of the wrestlers.

Nevertheless, the WFI has decided to organize the wrestling camp in six Olympic weight categories – 50kg, 53 kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg, and 76kg- until the end of the year. For all the ardent followers of the sport, it must have been encouraging to see wrestling among nine other sports to be given the go-ahead by SAI to resume their activities from October 5, under the ‘Khelo India Phir Se’ initiative.

“We are starting the camp from October 10 in Lucknow. The strength of the camp will remain same, three wrestlers in each of the six Olympic weight categories,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.

As part of the many measures and precautions that will be taken to ensure the wrestlers are safe and sound, the athletes will have to mandatorily undergo a 14-day quarantine period and return negative tests before being given the green light to start training.

When enquired whether all the wrestlers had agreed to take part in the camp, Tomar asserted, “All will have to come. Those who will miss the camp will be replaced and will not be considered for selection.” Speaking about Vinesh Phogat’s situation, Tomar added, “She wanted to train abroad but in the current situation, we are giving her good partners to train with at the camp.”

On that other hand, a coach that wished to be anonymous revealed that the concerned athlete, in this case, will be forced to join the camp as missing it will end up costing them a place in the national team, despite the overriding concern of contracting the virus.

The coach said, “After speaking with the parents of the wrestler, we have decided to send her. But the fear of catching the virus is still in their minds. We can’t say no, we can’t afford to miss the camp because then the federation will not invite her for trials for national selection. Especially, after the news of Vinesh and Deepak contracting the virus, they are not comfortable training outside. They are satisfied with training at their coaches’ akharas but what do you do.”

Meanwhile, Divya Kakran, who was also reluctant about joining the camp, has now decided to attend it, according to her father Suraj. On the other hand, the men’s camp began at Sonepat earlier this month and it too has been extended till December 31st.