United World Wrestling Supports Protesting Indian Wrestlers, Threatens To Suspend WFI In Notice

On May 28, two very significant incidents happened in our country. First, the new parliament building was inaugurated by our Prime Minister. And second, protesting Indian wrestlers, some of whom are Olympic medalists, were dragged on the streets by the police and temporarily detained during the ongoing wrestlers’ protest.

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Just to refresh your memory, for the past couple of months, top wrestlers of the country including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, have been protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Serious accusations of mishandling and sexually harassing female wrestlers are levied against him. Our wrestlers have been demanding strict action against him and have been protesting in front of Jantar Mantar.

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After they were detained, their entire protest site was cleared. According to Hindustan Times, the protesting wrestlers announced that they will throw their medals in the river Ganga in Haridwar at 6 PM on May 30 and then sit on an indefinite hunger strike at India Gate, New Delhi. What is truly appalling is to see our wrestlers, who have brought such pride to the country, being pushed to the brink because of the inaction against the WFI chief.

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In light of all this, United World Wrestling – the international sports governing body that oversees wrestling at the Olympics – has issued a serious notice condemning the distress caused to the Indian wrestlers and demanding strict action and a probe being taken immediately.

According to Times Now, the United World Wrestling has given a strict deadline of 45 days to the Indian wrestling governing body to conduct an election or face suspension. If India is suspended, then Indian wrestlers will have to compete under a neutral flag in global events.

Furthermore, the UWW has already taken a drastic step pertaining to this issue – by reallocating the Asian Championship that was planned in New Delhi earlier this year.

The statement issued by UWW reads:

“For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge.

UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations.

Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year.”

Read their entire statement here.

This has left the heads of several Indians hanging in shame. For an international sports body to intervene while our own authorities have shown massive incompetence in taking necessary actions and supporting our wrestlers is just plain and simple embarrassing.

Oh, to win laurels for the country and then have your desperate cries for justice be unheard. Such a shame.

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