The recent protests by wrestlers have garnered support from elite sportspersons Neeraj Chopra, Rani Rampal, and Sania Mirza. Amidst the silence of many, these athletes have spoken out about the situation. In a tweet, Chopra called for quick action, saying, ‘Justice must be served.’ Similarly, Rampal expressed her concern and sadness about the situation, stating, ‘It tears me apart to see my fellow athletes in this situation.’ Sania Mirza wrote, ‘Justice must be served sooner than later.’
This support from these well-known athletes comes after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, P T Usha, criticized the wrestlers for protesting on the streets instead of lodging complaints against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief with the IOA’s athletes’ commission. However, the three sportspersons felt it was important to lend their voices to the concerns of the wrestlers.
Usha also spoke out about the protests, stating that ‘wrestlers staging protests on streets amounts to indiscipline. It is tarnishing the image of India.’ In response to these events, the IOA has instituted a three-member ad-hoc panel to run the affairs of the WFI until a new body is elected. This panel includes former shooter Suma Shirur, Wushu Association of India chief Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, and a yet-to-be-named retired high court judge.
In a country where sports have long been an integral part of the national identity, the support from these athletes highlights the need to address the concerns of those competing at all levels. As Rani Rampal said, ‘Ignoring their concerns and not taking action on them does not serve the nation.’