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Wrestling

'No one seems serious about wrestling,' alleges Bajrang as Olympics near

Stating that wrestling has given India medals at four consecutive Olympics, Bajrang requested sports minister Anurag Thakur, SAI and the Department of Sports to help wrestlers prepare for the Paris Olympics.

Bajrang Punia Commonwealth Games 2022
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Bajrang Punia is a Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist. (Photo credit: SAI)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 30 Dec 2023 7:45 AM GMT

Olympic medal-winning wrestler Bajrang Punia has pleaded to the sports minister Anurag Thakur to start wrestling activities in India as soon as possible, as only seven months are left for the Paris Olympics.

"Wrestling activities has come to a standstill for several months. Neither has any Nationals been held nor have any preparatory camps been organized for the players," alleged Bajrang.

"The Olympic Games is only seven months away, but no one seems serious about it," he added, reminding the concerned stakeholders that "wrestling has given India four consecutive medals in the last four Olympics."

"I am requesting the sports ministry to start all wrestling activities as soon as possible so that the future of the players can be saved," said Bajrang, tagging sports minister Thakur, SAI and Department of Sports.

Wrestling in India has been in turmoil since January this year when the wrestlers sat in for a protest against former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, alleging that the BJP MP from Kaiserganj outraged the modesty of women's wrestlers. Brij Bhushan was later charged with sexual harassment, stalking and intimidation by Delhi Police based on complaints by six women wrestlers.

Bajrang, an Asian Games gold medallist, was one of the prime faces of the wrestlers' protest against Brij Bhushan, who ruled Indian wrestling for more than a decade.

The sports ministry earlier this year declared the committee running the WFI led by Brij Bhushan null and void following the protest by the wrestlers. An ad-hoc committee was formed under the aegis of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to conduct the elections on time.

However, the elections got delayed as several rebel factions of the state units moved the courts seeking voting rights. It resulted in a ban on the federation by UWW. As a result, Indian wrestlers were forced to compete at international events as neutral athletes.

Even as the much-awaited elections were finally held on December 21, the UWW has not yet lifted the ban. With the sports ministry suspending the newly elected committee on December 24 after wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang raised objections about Sanjay Singh's election as WFI president, the prospect of WFI's return to UWW has become uncertain.

On Friday, the IOA formed a fresh ad hoc committee to run the WFI.

Singh has been deemed as Brij Bhushan's proxy as he has been a close friend of the former WFI president. Moreover, Brij Bhushan was found to be commanding decisions of the federation when the U15 and U20 nationals were called on short notice at Gonda, the constituency of Brij Bhushan.

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