Following the demise of the president of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) Janardan Singh Gehlot in late April, one of the seven IKF vice-presidents Abbas Avarsaji has emerged as a leading candidate to take the vacant role.

Avarsaji, who is the president of the Iran Kabaddi Federation, expressed his interest in leading the international federation.

“First of all, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family of kabaddi due to the demise of Mr. Gehlot,” Avarsaji told Tehran Times.

“He helped the sport attract interest from people around the world. Now, the federation needs to continue the way it started and I think Iran has the potential to lead the sport in Asia or in the world,” he added.

While India has been a dominant force in Kabaddi, the Iran Men’s and Women’s kabaddi teams put an end to India’s supremacy in the 2018 Asian Games. Kabaddi was instilled in the Asian Games in 1990 and India had won every edition until 2018.

After Iran Men’s and Women’s kabaddi teams won their first gold medals at Jakarta-Palembang in 2018, they will now look to defend their titles when the Asian Games return in 2022 in Hangzhou in China.

And Avarsaji has said that Iran’s recent dominance in the sport is a testament to the fact that they can lead the global governing body.

“Kabaddi has been played for hundreds of years in Iran. Iranian teams have shown how strong they are. In the 2018 Asian Games, men’s and women’s team won the title. It shows that we can lead the sport and the other members of the kabaddi federation have shown their satisfaction with us.

“Mr. Gehlot was heading the Asian and world federation at the same time but I believe that the Asia and world federations must be headed separately,” he added.

“We want to get Kabaddi into the Olympics because the sport has grown around the world over the past years. Iran’s Sports Ministry and National Olympic Committee have supported us to have a seat in Asia or in the world. Iran deserves to lead the Asian or world federation given its current position,” Avarsaji asserted.