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BFI to hold selection committee meeting over Zareen's plea

ANI | Updated: Oct 18, 2019 16:32 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct 18 (ANI): After boxer Nikhat Zareen wrote a letter to Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju demanding a fair trial for Tokyo Olympics 2020, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has decided to call a selection committee meeting next week to discuss Zareen's plea.
Zareen on Thursday had demanded a 'fair chance' to contest the qualifiers for Tokyo Olympics. In her letter, she said the BFI's rule of exempting gold and silver medallists from the World Cup was being changed to accommodate pugilist Mary Kom, who won a bronze in the tournament.
"The BFI president is out of the country. So let him come back. We will call the meeting of the internal selection committee again. Players will not be there," a BFI source told ANI.
"Most likely in the coming week, we will have the meeting because members are not in Delhi. They will be called for the meeting," the source added.
When asked about Zareen's demand raised in her letter to Sports Minister Rijiju, the source said: "I am saying what the president has said that we will have a discussion in this regard. Let's see what happens in the meeting. As of now, we are waiting for the president to return and discuss the issue with the selection committee."
When asked whether any instructions have been given from the Sports Ministry or Sports Authority of India (SAI) on her letter, the source 'denied' over it.
Earlier in the day, Rijiju replied to Zareen's plea in which she sought a fair trial for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and said that he should not be involved in the selection of players by respective sports federations.
"I will surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the NATION, SPORTS & ATHLETES. Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per OLYMPIC CHARTER," Rijiju tweeted.
Twenty-three-year-old said if the 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps had to requalify every time for the Olympics, then the rest of the sportspersons must do the same.
Zareen released the statement on Twitter and captioned the post as, "All I want is a fair chance. If I'm not given the opportunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about FairPlay & I don't want to lose faith in my country.Jai Hind @KirenRijiju @RijijuOffice #AjaySingh @Media_SAI @DGSAI @BFI_official @kishanreddybjp @PMOIndia #TopsAthlete".
Zareen started her letter by mentioning her victory at the Thailand Open and also highlighted that she was invited to take part in the trials for Women's World Boxing Championships, but the event was cancelled at the last moment and Mary Kom was selected for the championships.
"More recently I won the silver medal at the Thailand Open Championships in 2019 and defeated the current world champion Aitbayeva Liliya at an AIBA event in 2018 in Belgrade. On the 6th and 7th of August 2019, I was invited for a trial in Delhi for selection for the World Championship. To my utter dismay, the trial was cancelled and Mary Kom was sent," Zareen said in the statement.
"After this decision, the BFI announced that gold and silver medallists from the World Cup will be exempted from the Olympic trials. Today, I have been reliably informed that the rule is now being changed again to accommodate my senior, Mary Kom, as the Indian candidate without a trial," she added.
Zareen said that every sport is based on giving fair opportunities to every athlete. She also said that Mary Kom is an inspiration for her.
"The very basis of sport is the concept of fair play and the need to keep proving oneself each and every time. Even Olympic Gold medallists have to fight again to qualify to represent the country. I have been inspired by Mary Kom since I was a teenager. The best way I can do justice to this inspiration was to strive to be as great a boxer as her," Zareen said.
"And Mary Kom is too big a legend in sport to need to hide from the competition and not actually defend her Olympic qualification. After all, if 23-time gold medallist Michael Phelps had to requalify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same. I look for no favours. Just fair play. And whether Mary Kom or I or any other boxer qualifies after the trial, we can at least sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the Olympics," she added.
When ANI asked Zareen if she missed a chance to contest the qualifiers because of Mary Kom, she responded with a "yes".
Six-time world champion Mary Kom was knocked out of the Women's World Boxing Championships last week after facing a defeat in the semi-finals of the tournament. As a result, she had to settle for a bronze medal.
With this bronze, Kom now has eight medals in the championships, making her the only athlete to have the tally in the history of the tournament.
Turkey's European champion Busenaz Cakiroglu defeated the 36-year-old 4-1 in the 51-kg category. (ANI)