WFI Clarifies Selection Policy for Paris Olympics, Doors Open for All Wrestlers

WFI Clarifies Selection Policy for Paris Olympics, Doors Open for All Wrestlers

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has clarified its stance on the selection of wrestlers for the Paris Olympics, stating that the doors remain open for all athletes, including Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya.

WFI President Sanjay Singh emphasized that the federation will adhere to its selection policy, which stipulates that the performance of quota-winning wrestlers will be reviewed before a decision is made on holding a selection trial prior to the Paris Games.

“There is no confusion now. The ad-hoc committee is no longer in place, and WFI will follow the rules and regulations of its selection policy,” Singh said. “It states that whoever wins the Olympic berth, their performance will be assessed. If the performance is satisfactory, the same wrestler will go to Paris. Otherwise, the wrestler who is performing well in the same weight class will get an opportunity.”

Regarding Dahiya and Punia, Singh stated that their performances will be evaluated, as will those of all other wrestlers. “There will be no discrimination against anyone,” he added.

The teams for the two Olympic qualification tournaments were selected based on the ad-hoc panel’s selection policy, which allowed the top four wrestlers from these trials to qualify for a final trial in May for the Paris Olympics.

In the 53kg weight class, Antim Panghal has already qualified, while double world medalist Vinesh Phogat is among the contenders to challenge her for Paris. However, Phogat will also have the opportunity to secure a berth for India in the 50kg category.

“Vinesh will be competing in the 50kg Olympic qualification tournament in Bishkek,” Singh confirmed.

At the WFI Special General Meeting in Noida, amendments to the constitution were approved, including age, tenure, and cooling-off period guidelines as per the Sports Code. The 70-year age cap and two consecutive terms (or eight years), followed by a mandatory four-year cooling-off period, will now apply to all WFI executive council positions.

The SGM also adopted a resolution to conduct Athletes Commission elections as mandated by United World Wrestling (UWW). The elections will be held during the Federation Cup in Varanasi from April 24-26.

WFI, which was suspended by the Sports Ministry, discussed the possibility of functioning without government funding. “UWW and IOA have lifted the suspension on WFI. We hope the Sports Ministry also lifts the suspension, but at present, we are not receiving any financial help from the government, so we discussed ways to run the organization,” Singh said.

WFI Secretary General Prem Chand Lohcab, who came from the camp of protesting wrestlers, has not attended any of the three WFI meetings. WFI adopted a resolution that if the secretary general fails to forward proposed amendments to every member of the general council as described in the WFI constitution, the president may authorize one of the joint secretaries to do so.

Top Wrestlers Headline Selection Trials for Paris Olympics Qualifiers

Top Wrestlers Headline Selection Trials for Paris Olympics Qualifiers

The upcoming two-day selection trials for the Paris Olympic qualifiers and Asian Championships will feature India’s top wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, and Vinesh Phogat. The trials will be conducted by an ad hoc panel in Sonepat and Patiala.

Initially, United World Wrestling (UWW) had raised concerns about accepting India’s entries for the competitions due to the suspension of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) by the sports ministry. However, after a Delhi High Court hearing, the ad hoc panel was authorized to hold the trials.

To ensure official status for the trials and clear India’s entry for the tournaments, WFI has agreed to send officials and coaches to monitor the proceedings. The trials for Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestlers will take place in Sonepat on Sunday, while the women’s trials will be held in Patiala on Monday.

Winners in the Olympic weight categories will represent India in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers and World Olympic Qualifiers. Runners-up will compete in the Asian Championships.

Several top wrestlers are returning from injuries, including Ravi Dahiya, Anshu Malik, and Sonam Malik. Antim Panghal, the only Indian to secure an Olympic quota, has received a direct entry to the Asian Championships.

Bajrang Punia, a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, will need to win the trials to qualify for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers. Vinesh Phogat, who underwent knee surgery, will face a fitness test in Patiala.

Ravi Dahiya and Aman Sehrawat will compete in the 57kg category, while Yash and Sagar Jaglan will battle for the 74kg berth. Deepak Punia remains the favorite in the 86kg category.

In the women’s 59kg class, Anshu Malik and Sarita Mor will face off. Both are world championships medalists, with Malik having defeated Mor at the National Championships in Jaipur.

The selection trials will be crucial for wrestlers aiming to represent India at the Paris Olympics. The trials will provide an opportunity to assess their form and fitness and determine who will represent the country in the upcoming international competitions.

WFI Withdraws Parallel Selection Trials for Asian Wrestling Championships

WFI Withdraws Parallel Selection Trials for Asian Wrestling Championships

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has withdrawn its notice for selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament, scheduled for March 10-11. This decision came after the Delhi High Court intervened, stating that there cannot be two parallel trials.

The court directed that the trials will proceed as per the WFI Ad Hoc Committee’s February 9 circular, which called for wrestlers to participate in the same event on the same dates. All eligible candidates will be allowed to participate.

The court’s decision came in response to a plea filed by four wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart. The wrestlers challenged WFI’s February 26 notice, claiming that the federation had deliberately issued it despite being barred by the Union Sports Ministry from conducting championships.

The plea also stated that the ministry’s January 7 notice, which restrained WFI from conducting competitions, was still in operation. The ministry had categorically stated that any championships organized by the former’s suspended executive committee would be treated as unsanctioned and unrecognized.

During the hearing, WFI’s senior advocate Dayanan Krishnan initially argued that the United World Wrestling (UWW) would not recognize a team not sent by the elected WFI. However, he later withdrew the circular dated February 26, 2024, without prejudice to his rights and contentions.

The court emphasized that there should be no parallel selection trials and that the trials should proceed as per the ad hoc committee’s circular. The ad hoc committee is responsible for ensuring that all eligible athletes are permitted to participate.

The wrestlers’ plea also sought to declare WFI’s December 21, 2023 elections as illegal. However, the court did not address this issue, as the wrestlers had not made the successful candidates as parties.

The Union Sports Ministry suggested that both WFI and the ad hoc committee should put forth dual suggestions regarding the trials. The ministry’s primary concern is that medalists should represent India under the national flag.

Wrestlers Challenge Legality of WFI Elections, Seek Court Intervention

Wrestlers Challenge Legality of WFI Elections, Seek Court Intervention

The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Central government and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in response to a petition filed by renowned wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart Kadian. The petition challenges the legality of the WFI elections held in December 2023 and seeks their nullification.

The wrestlers, represented by senior advocate Rahul Mehra, allege that the elections violated the Sports Code and were conducted in a manner that undermines the integrity of the sport. They contend that the WFI has engaged in various wrongdoings, including sexual harassment and attempts to silence and sideline wrestlers who have spoken out against these abuses.

The petition specifically targets the election of Sanjay Kumar Singh, a close associate of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, as the new president. The wrestlers argue that this election was orchestrated to maintain the influence of Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment by seven women grapplers.

The wrestlers also accuse the WFI of defying directives from the Sports Ministry and the ad-hoc committee appointed to oversee the federation’s affairs. They claim that the WFI has continued to conduct selection trials and other activities in violation of these directives, adversely affecting the career prospects of Indian wrestlers.

The petition requests the court to declare the WFI elections void and to direct the federation to cease all activities related to wrestling. It also seeks the appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as an administrator to take over the management of the WFI.

The court has granted time to the Central government and the WFI to respond to the petition and has scheduled a further hearing for March 7. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the future of wrestling in India and the accountability of sports federations.

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