Ahead of the championships, wrestlers from China were declined visas due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus there. The deadly disease has infected more than 72,000 people and killed nearly 1,900 so far. "We have a contingent of around 28 and just a few of the wrestlers and officials are wearing masks. Although we know there is no virus here and it is safe but why to take a chance," Seyeon Lee, part of medical staff of Korea, told PTI.
The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan late last year. That city is under a lock-down to prevent the virus from spreading. The athletes competing here were unanimous in saying that mask was just a precautionary measure. Bakour Florian, a Digital Project Manager at the world governing body United World Wrestling (UWW), was seen sporting a mask too.
"My family is concerned as the virus is spreading in Asian countries. We know there is no virus here as China has also been denied visa but it is more of a precautionary measure," he said.
The air quality in the national capital is also a concern for many. "The air quality is still unhealthy in Delhi and there is naturally an overall concern about this virus as we all know some of the Asian countries have been affected," said a member of the Japanese team.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) said the masks were being used by participants due to their concerns about Delhi's air quality. "Some wrestlers from Korea, Thailand and Japan are wearing masks which is common because they always have apprehensions about Delhi's pollution levels," a WFI official said on condition of anonymity.
"There is nothing to worry or create any panic. They might be extra cautious about the coronavirus outbreak also. But everything is safe and on schedule out here."
The six-day Asian Championship is returning to India after a gap of two years. The championship has been classified as a ranking tournament for the Tokyo Olympics by the United World Wrestling - the global governing body of the sport. The tournament will be played in three categories -- men's freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling. The first two days will see Greco-Roman competition, followed by women's wrestling (next two days) and men's freestyle (last two days).