International Wrestling Body Condemns Detention of Wrestlers, Expresses Heightened Concern
May 30, 2023:
United World Wrestling (UWW), the international wrestling body, has strongly denounced the detention of wrestlers and expressed deepening worry over recent events. In response to the scuffle between the protesting wrestlers and Delhi Police on May 28, UWW issued a statement expressing its concern regarding the wrestlers' arrest and temporary detainment during their protest march.
Notably, UWW expressed disappointment with the lack of progress in the investigation into the alleged sexual harassment by Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. UWW called upon the authorities to conduct a comprehensive and impartial inquiry into these serious allegations.
UWW further pledged to hold a meeting with the wrestlers to assess their well-being and safety, reiterating its support for a fair and equitable resolution of their grievances.
Emphasizing the significance of respecting the initial 45-day deadline set for the elective assembly, UWW cautioned that failing to do so could result in the suspension of the federation, compelling athletes to compete under a neutral flag. UWW reminded the wrestling community of its previous decision to reallocate the Asian Championship, which was originally planned to take place in New Delhi earlier this year.
Last month, UWW President Nenad Lalovic addressed a letter to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), seeking clarity on the management of the sport within the country. Copies of the letter were also sent to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President PT Usha and International Olympic Committee (IOC) official J Poivey. In response, the WFI expressed concerns about alleged government interference in their affairs.
The protest, led by Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, world championships medalist Vinesh Phogat, and Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia, aimed to draw attention to the issue of sexual harassment. The wrestlers arrived in Haridwar and, surrounded by a crowd, tearfully clutched their medals on the riverbanks. However, they ultimately changed their plans following Naresh Tikait's intervention, granting the government a five-day window to respond to their demands.