The Indian boxing team, featuring the likes of MC Mary Kom (51kg) and Amit Panghal (52kg), reached Dubai to compete in the Asian Boxing Championships aboard an “air-bubble” flight, which had to stay mid-air longer than scheduled as administrative paperwork delayed its landing.

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The tournament starts on Monday with the draws lined up for Sunday. It is the only major competition that the boxers will get before the July-August Olympics given the Covid-19 restrictions in place around the globe.

The team reached Dubai on Saturday after their flight was held up mid air for over two hours because of a delay in the clearance of paperwork which approved the team’s arrival in Dubai. The approval was required as the UAE has imposed a ban on flights from India in view of the heavy COVID-19 caseload here.

“There was some confusion regarding the approval letter for the trip which was eventually sorted thanks to the intervention of the Indian Embassy in the UAE. The flight took a while to land but the boxers have now reached their hotel,” a source close to the team told PTI.

The Boxing Federation of India issued a statement, thanking the Indian ambassador to the UAE, Pavan Kapoor for his assistance but did not get into details of what caused the delay in the flight’s landing.

“Indian contingent has landed in Dubai and reached the hotel. Two rounds of RT-PCR test have been conducted – one at the airport and the other at the hotel. Indian team flew on SpiceJet flight under the air bubble agreement with all necessary and relevant permissions,” the statement read, adding thanks to the Asian Boxing Confederation and the UAE government.

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The 10-member strong women’s team is being led by Mary Kom (51kg) along with three other Olympic-bound boxers – Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg).

Two Olympic-bound names missing from the men’s team are Manish Kaushik (63kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg), both of whom are currently recovering from Covid-19.

A total of five men have qualified for the Tokyo Games in July-August.

Apart from India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, and Uzbekistan are among the prominent countries which will compete at the continental showpiece.

India had delivered its best ever Asian Championship performance in the 2019 edition in Thailand, claiming 13 medals, including two gold, four silver and seven bronze.

Update: Boxer Vinod Tanwar (49kg), who was initially named as part of the 20-member squad for the Championships, has been withdrawn after he was tested positive. Tanwar was not part of the camp at the time he was tested positive.

“Vinod Tanwar was in his hometown and was advised for RT-PCR test. However, with the reports coming positive, Tanwar was advised to be in isolation at his hometown and the team management decided not to add any replacement in the 49kg category,” the federation said in a statement.

Indian squad:
Amit Panghal (52kg), Mohammad Hussamuddin (56kg), Varinder Singh (60kg), Shiva Thapa (64kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sumit Sangwan (81kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Narender (+91kg).

(Women): Monika (48kg), MC Mary Kom (51kg), Sakshi (54kg), Jasmine (57kg), Simranjeet Kaur (60kg), Lalbuatsaihi (64kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Saweety (81kg) and Anupama (+81kg).