Almaty, April 10 (IANS): In a huge setback to the organisers of Asian Wrestling Championships in Almaty, the Japanese women's team, which has the likes of Olympic champions Risako Kawai and Sara Dosho, suddenly withdrew from the tournament because of suspected contact with Covid-19.
Allaying fears that any member of the contingent had tested Covid-positive, the Japan Wrestling Federation said that contact tracing 'showed an unspecified number may have been exposed to someone infected'.
The decision was made at the last minute as the contingent was all set to accompany the men's freestyle team on the flight to Almaty via Istanbul for the tournament starting April 13. It follows the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament currently underway at the same venue.
Though no member of the contingent has tested Covid-positive in the RT-PCR tests a day before their scheduled departure -- and none of the wrestlers was displaying any symptoms -- the Japanese federation wants to 'mitigate the risk of possibly infecting wrestlers from other countries in Almaty'.
The developments come even as the National Training Centre in Tokyo, where the wrestlers trained for the tournament, had put in place stringent Covid-19 protocols.
Kawai (57kg) and Dosho (68kg) were the only two members in the six-member team to Almaty who have qualified for the Olympics. For Dosho, it would have been her maiden overseas competition since last year's Asian Championships in February in New Delhi.
The other team members are: Remina Yoshimoto (50kg), Tsugumi Sakurai (55kg), Akie Hanai (59kg), Miwa Morikawa (65kg) and Masako Furuichi (72kg).