After the postponement of the women’s FIH Hockey Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom news has come that the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, scheduled between December 3 and 5 in South Africa‘s Pretoria, has been deferred indefinitely due to concerns over the outbreak of Omicron there. Omicron cases have mainly been detected in the province of Gauteng, which includes cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Earlier, Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra‘s scheduled visit to Potchefstroom in South Africa was cancelled due to the virus worry, coupled with the suspension of flights by a few countries and imposition of strict travel and quarantine rules. Chopra had planned to leave for South Africa on December 2 and was supposed to train there till March next year. Now, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has been planning to send him to the USA.
For the country’s wrestlers, it was always a difficult job to reach Pretoria after the flight they were originally booked on was cancelled by the airline. A 60-member strong contingent was named to represent the country in the men’s and women’s Freestyle and Greco-Roman categories at the event.
The first batch of wrestlers was scheduled to leave Tuesday night from the IGI Delhi, with their connecting flight from Doha to Pretoria. But, after the rapid rise of Omicron cases, Doha-based Qatar Airways announced the suspension of flight operations to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had been trying to send the wrestlers via Dubai, but then the news arrived that the championship had been postponed. The event would have seen the return of 2010 Delhi CWG gold medallist woman wrestler, Geeta Phogat, to international wrestling after a gap of four years. In the previous edition of the meet in Johannesburg, the Indian wrestlers had returned with an astonishing 25 gold medals in freestyle and Greco-roman weight categories.