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|August 30, 2000||
India pitches for Olympic kabbadi
Supporters of kabaddi -- an ancient rural Indian sport -- are trying to spread the game through Asia and hope it will eventually become an Olympic event.
Jandardhan Singh Gehlot, president of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), told Reuters: "Until it spreads in Asia, it cannot go beyond. Our heart is there (Olympics)."
Gehlot, speaking by telephone from the northwestern city of Jaipur, added: "China and Japan have started playing and we hope for Korea, too."
Kabaddi is already a medal event in the Asian Games, where India have won three consecutive golds since the sport debuted at Beijing in 1990. In addition to South Asian nations, Thailand and Japan played kabaddi at the last games in Bangkok in 1998.
It will be a demonstration sport at the Afro-Asian Games at New Delhi in 2001.
Kabaddi, a variation of tag, involves two teams of seven in which players take turns to "raid" the opposing team's half of a rectangular pitch.
The "raider" tries to touch as many members of the opposing team as possible while chanting "kabaddi" without taking a breath. Opponents try to block his exit from their half without being touched.
Kabaddi has more than 25,000 club-level players in India, but the sport's supporters say it languishes for want of adequate official patronage despite a vast following across the country and in the subcontinent.
The game, played in various regions of India under names like "chadugudu" and "hututu" and with varying rules, was standardised in 1952 by the Kabaddi Federation of India. The name kabaddi was also adopted.
Mail Sports Editor
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