India’s athletics season is set to unfold next month with the National Open Race Walking Championship, which will also serve as an Olympic qualifying event, the national federation announced on Wednesday.
Some international athletes will compete in the two-day championship, beginning February 13. The competition will be held in men’s 50km, men’s and women’s 20km, besides the men’s and women’s U-20 10km events under strict COVID-19 protocols.
The men’s and women’s 20km and men’s 50km are Olympic events. KT Irfan and Bhawana Jat have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in men’s and women’s 20km events respectively.
“The 8th Edition of National Open/4th International Race Walking Championships will be held at Ranchi (Jharkhand) on February 13 and 14, 2021. It will be a qualifying event for Olympic Games,” the Athletics Federation of India said.
“Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared by AFI and other guidelines issued by the concerned state government in connection with COVID–19 pandemic are strictly followed to ensure that the competition is conducted smoothly,” AFI Secretary Ravinder Chaudhry said in the statement.
The AFI said boarding and lodging facilities of athletes/managers/coaches will not be provided by the organisers due to COVID–19 pandemic and they will have to make their own arrangements. The whole of the athletics calendar was wiped out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.