New Delhi: Chinese wrestlers will be unable to take part in the Asian Championships in New Delhi this week after being denied visas because of the coronavirus outbreak, an official said
The Indian government has suspended e-visas for Chinese nationals due to the deadly virus that has claimed more than 1,800 lives since spreading from its epicentre in the central city of Wuhan.
"They are not coming. Of course health concerns remain a big reason and the coronavirus outbreak is deadly," Wrestling Federation of India assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told AFP.
China joined the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Turkmenistan as nations that will be unable to participate in the tournament, due to circumstances stemming from the outbreak. There have been no reports of any wrestlers from any of the countries contracting the illness.
A Chinese Federation spokesperson was quoted as saying on the governing body's United World Wrestling (UWW) website: "The wrestlers are disappointed for sure."
Japanese world champions Kenichiro Fumita and Risako Kawai are among top wrestlers taking part.
India's sports minister Kiren Rijiju said the denial of visas would not normally be allowed but there were exceptions for an extraordinary health crisis.
"We can't deny visa to citizens of any country because it is a part of the Olympic charter. We try to keep sports away from politics," Rijiju told reporters.
"But where there is health concern or any technical issue, there are separate provisions for that."
The Asian Championships provide UWW ranking points that count towards seedings at this year's Tokyo Olympics.
The loss of Chinese entries is a big blow to the tournament, particularly in the women's competition. World silver medalist Rong Ningning was among four reigning or past Asian women's champions who had prepared to enter the tournament that also provides valuable UWW ranking points towards earning a seed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics can be gained....