Wrestlers protest: World body swings into action; question mark on Asian C'ships in Delhi

UWW sends mail to Indian federation, participation in future international events depends on outcome of enquiry 
India's top wresters continue to protest against WFI and its President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in New Delhi, Jan 20. 2023. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)
India's top wresters continue to protest against WFI and its President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in New Delhi, Jan 20. 2023. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

CHENNAI: As the stalemate between the protesting wrestlers and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) refuses to die down, United World Wrestling (UWW), the world governing body of the sport, has taken cognizance of the issue and sought a reply from the national federation. It has also attempted to contact the wrestlers, who are at loggerheads with the WFI accusing its chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of alleged sexual harassment of the female grapplers.

The ongoing tussle has also put a question mark on Indian wrestlers' participation in the upcoming international events and the country's hosting Asian Championships. The world body is expected to take a call in this regard once the issue is resolved and a report of the same is submitted to it.

In a reply to a questionnaire mailed to the UWW enquiring about the ongoing controversy in the country, the world body admitted the allegations levelled against the WFI chief are serious. "UWW has learned with great concern via the media about these serious allegations. We will closely follow the cases and will take any necessary measures that are warranted by the outcome of the investigations," the world body said via an email to this daily.

Adding further, it said, "We have contacted the federation, as well as made efforts to contact athletes directly to better understand the situation." However, the UWW has not clarified whether it managed to speak to the agitating wrestlers. Replying to a specific question on Indian wrestlers' participation in the international tournaments and hosting of the Asian Championships, the UWW said it will be determined based on the outcomes.

As far as the investigations are concerned, it was learnt that the UWW is waiting for a report in this regard from the WFI, which in turn accepted that it has received an email from the world body seeking clarification on the ongoing tussle.

"Yes, we received an email from the UWW. We clarified that the ongoing protest is a conspiracy against the ruling dispensation. We have been given 72 hours by the sports ministry to submit our report. The same report will be mailed to the UWW as well," said a highly-placed WFI source.


It should be noted that the first international assignment for the wrestlers is the Ranking Series scheduled in Zagreb, Croatia from February 1 to 5. It will be followed by the Dan Kolov Petrov international tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria from March 2 to 5 and the Yasar Dogu, Vehbi Emre & Hamit Kaplan tournament in Istanbul, Turkey from March 8 to 12. Interestingly, India is also scheduled to host the continental tournament, Asian Championships, in New Delhi from March 28 to April 2. However, everything — participation of Indian wrestlers and hosting of the Asian Championships — now hangs in a balance.

Ranking tourney to begin today

Meanwhile, the WFI is set to organise the Senior Open National Ranking Tournament in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh from Saturday. The second day of the three-day tournament will also witness the emergency executive committee and emergency general body meeting to discuss the allegations levelled against Singh. "Almost all the participating wrestlers have reached the venue. The tournament will go ahead. The meeting will also be held on Day 2. The president will speak on the accusations against him after the meeting," asserted the WFI source.

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