The decision to exempt Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat from the Asian Games' trials is unfortunate, said Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
Singh, who is currently facing sexual harassment charges by female wrestlers, expressed his concern that this decision will have a negative impact on wrestling in India.
Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, who were at the forefront of the protest against Singh, have been granted direct entries to the Asian Games by the ad-hoc panel of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
This decision has sparked controversy and criticism from various quarters.
The junior wrestlers, particularly Antim Panghal and Sujeet Kalkal, who have been significantly affected by this decision, have taken their grievances to court. They are demanding a fair trial for all categories instead of direct entries being granted.
Singh expressed his anguish over the decision made by the ad-hoc panel. He stated that the practice of giving exemptions to wrestlers had been ended because it was found to be detrimental to the development of junior wrestlers.
Singh emphasized that this decision would harm the sport of wrestling in the country, as many individuals, including athletes, parents, and fans, have worked hard to uplift the sport.
Wrestling is now considered a sport where winning an Olympic medal is almost guaranteed. However, the decision to send these wrestlers to a competition like the Asian Games is unfortunate, he added.
In Hisar, the 19-year-old Panghal, along with several other wrestlers, their families, and elders, took to the streets to protest against the decision made by the ad-hoc panel. When questioned about exempting certain wrestlers from trials during his tenure as President, Singh admitted that it was a mistake.
During the Commonwealth Games, Singh said that they did not directly send these wrestlers, although they were given direct semifinal berths. However, it was later realized that this may not have been the right decision.
As a result, the issue was discussed in the Executive Committee, advice sought from the coaches, including studying the rules of other nations, and the new rules were passed in the General Body Meeting.
These rules state that no wrestler will be exempted from trials in any situation. The resolution was passed on August 25 at the General Body Meeting in Rohtak last year.
Singh, who is currently on interim bail and cannot participate in the upcoming WFI elections due to the Sports Code guidelines, also expressed that he believed that the protest launched by six wrestlers was motivated.
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