New Delhi, April 30: A final chance to make the Olympic cut at stake, India's wrestlers have finally landed in Sofia, Bulgaria for the World Qualifiers starting May 6 after missing an earlier scheduled flight because of the travel ban on the country. Several countries have imposed travel bans on India due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases here.
A group of 10 wrestlers were to leave for Sofia via Amsterdam on Wednesday but their tickets were cancelled at the last minute by a Dutch airline. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) then swung into action and arranged for fresh flight tickets via Paris.
"We had discussions with those countries through our embassies in Netherlands and France and succeeded in getting travel restrictions relaxed. Eventually, we booked tickets via Paris for Thursday night. The wrestlers have already reached there," WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.
The World Qualifiers will be held from May 6-9. India have so far earned the qualification in six categories. Three men's freestyle wrestlers [Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg)] and three women's wrestlers [(Vinesh Phogat 53kg, Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg)].
Now, Amit Dhankar (74kg), Satywart Kadiyan (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) will make one last attempt to book their tickets for Tokyo in men's freestyle event while Seema (50kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg) and Pooja Sihag (76kg) will try to book their slots in the women's event.
None of India's Greco Roman wrestlers have qualified for the Games and six of them -- Sachin Rana (60kg), Aashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil (87kg), Deepanshu (97kg) and Naveen Kumar (130kg) -- will present their challenge in Sofia.