Pakistan became kabaddi world champions yesterday after narrowly beating arch rivals India who played even though authorities at home vowed to investigate why a team competed despite a ban on sporting ties.
In final, Pakistan fought back in the second half to secure a 43-41 win over the defending champions in the popular South Asian sport in front of thousands of spectators.
“We are grateful to all the nations which made this event colourful,” Rana Mohamed Sarwar, the secretary general of the Pakistan kabaddi federation, told AFP.
“We should not let sports and culture become a victim of politics.”
Last week, Indian sports minister Kiren Rijiju said no kabaddi player had been given permission to participate.
“Playing in the name of the country with India’s flag being used are matters to be investigated,” Rijiju said.
Apart from India, teams from Iran, England, Germany, Sierra Leone, Australia, Canada and Azerbaijan participated in the event.
India cut bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that authorities blamed on Pakistani militants.
India has since ordered a general freeze on sporting contacts, and last year a Davis Cup tennis tie between the two nations was shifted out of Pakistan to Kazakhstan.
Few international sports events are held in Pakistan due to safety concerns, though in recent years cricket has made a comeback amid improving security.
Kabaddi originated in the sub-continent and later spread to other Asian countries.
Each team starts with seven players. During the 40-minute game, lone players will cross the centre line and attempt to tag opponents before racing back to their half and safety. The defending team will try to grab and stop the raider.
Whoever succeeds in the wrestling match that ensues scores.
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