New Delhi: Next month's women's world boxing championship in Istanbul was on Wednesday postponed till March 2022 by the sport's governing body AIBA, which said the "COVID-19 situation is too difficult at present" and it cannot take the risk to proceed with the event.
As reported by PTI on Tuesday, the event's postponement was sealed during the recent men's world championships in Belgrade where several countries expressed apprehensions about travelling to Turkey amid a surge in COVID cases.
"As such, AIBA Board of Directors, in consensus with the Turkish National Federation, has decided to postpone the Women's World Championships to March 2022," AIBA President Umar Kremlev said in a letter to national federation which is in PTI's possession.
"...The feedback received is that too many National Federations are facing difficult situations and restrictions within their countries. Regrettably, the Covid situation is too difficult at present," he explained.
— AIBA (@AIBA_Boxing) November 10, 2021
The tournament was tentatively planned from December 4 to 18 in Istanbul. Turkey has been logging cases in excess of 25,000 regularly.
The country also reported 187 deaths on Monday because of the deadly infection that has wreaked havoc globally for the past two years. The surge in cases has been attributed to the delta variant of the virus.
"We are aware that some teams have already started preparations for this event and will be disappointed," Kremlev said.
"However, please understand that the safety and wellbeing of our athletes, officials and other stakeholders is priority, and therefore we cannot take the risk to proceed with the event," he added.
Europe, in general, has been witnessing a rise in COVID cases.
India was to be represented by the reigning national champions in all weight categories except for 70kg division in which Olympic bronze-medallist Lovlina Borgohain has been given direct selection.
Her direct selection has been opposed by national gold-winner and world youth champion Arundhati Choudhary, who has taken the matter to Delhi High Court. The HC has issued a notice to the Boxing Federation of India on the matter.
But with the postponement of the mega-event, there could be trials in all weight categories given the time lag.
For the first time ever, the AIBA announced a prize money fund of USD 2.4 million for medal winners across 12 weight categories.
The prize for first place has been kept USD 100 000. The silver-medallists would receive USD 50,000 and both bronze winners in each weight category would be richer by USD 25,000.
The world body had also announced that AIBA Extraordinary Congress would be held during the championships, and major reforms of the organisation will be announced.
In July, AIBA increased the women's weight categories from 10 to 12.
The new divisions are 48kg, 50kg, 52kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63kg, 66kg, 70kg, 75kg, 81kg, and +81kg.