UWW, the world governing body for wrestling, has suspended the WFI for not conducting its elections on time, a development which will not allow Indian grapplers to compete at the upcoming World Championships under the Indian flag.
The Indian wrestlers will have to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at the Olympic-qualifying World Championships, starting September 16 as the ad-hoc panel, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, did not honour the 45-day deadline for conducting the elections.
The development has come a day before the ad-hoc panel conducts the World Championships trials in Patiala. The IOA had appointed the ad-hoc panel on April 27 and the committee was supposed to hold elections within 45 days.
UWW had on April 28 warned that it could suspend the Indian federation if the deadline to hold elections is not honoured. Meanwhile ad-hoc panel member Gian Singh told PTI that they are being kept in the dark by Bajwa on the related developments and that they are not part of decision making anymore.
“I have also heard that WFI has been suspended but I can’t tell you what the ad-hoc panel will do now. Mr Bajwa does not call us for discussion any more. I did not even know how the criteria were finalised for the Worlds trials,” Gian told PTI.
“Mr Bajwa is too busy, it seems,” he added, indicating that the ad-hoc panel has failed to properly manage issues at hand. Bajwa was contacted for a comment but he did not return calls or respond to text messages.
The Indian women’s team at the recent U-20 World Championship in Amman had won the team title for the first time in the Indian wrestling history ahead of powerhouses like Japan and USA.
The wrestlers earned points because they were representing their country but now at the senior world championships in Serbia, the Indians will compete as ‘neutral athletes’ and their performances will not be counted as India’s.
The wrestlers, though, can compete under the Indian flag the Asian Games, starting September 23 in Hangzhou, since it’s the IOA which has sent entries and not the WFI. At the Worlds, it is the WFI which has to send entries after selecting a team through trials.
Originally, the WFI was to hold elections on May 7 but the Sports Ministry had declared the process as null and void and subsequently IOA installed an ad-hoc panel to run the sport in the country.
The elections have been delayed several times after that with multiple disgruntled and disaffiliated state bodies moving the court, seeking the right to participate in the polls.