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Outcry Grows Over Bajrang and Vinesh’s Exemption from Asian Games Trials

Many junior wrestlers, along with their parents and coaches, gathered at the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) headquarters on Thursday, urging the withdrawal of exemptions given to Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from the Asian Games trials. A similar protest had taken place earlier in Haryana’s Hisar. Seeking a meeting with IOA president P T Usha and ad-hoc panel chief Bhupender Singh Bajwa, around 150 people, including wrestlers’ family members, expressed their concerns.

“We will not accept any biased decision. This is wrong. We are here to request the panel to withdraw exemption granted to Bajrang and Vinesh,” said Vikas Bhardhwaj, coach of promising wrestler Antim Panghal, in his statement to PTI.

Reigning U-20 world champion Panghal and U-23 Asian Champion Sujeet Kalkal have criticized the ad-hoc committee’s decision, claiming they can defeat Bajrang and Vinesh if given a chance to compete against them in the trials.

Despite their absence, the IOA ad hoc panel, led by Bajwa, had announced the criteria for the trials, stating that they will be held in all categories except for men’s free style 65kg and women’s 53kg weight class, where the wrestlers have already been selected.

Panghal and Sujeet have also taken legal action, filing a petition at the Delhi High Court, requesting the IOA ad-hoc committee to revoke the exemptions granted to Bajrang and Vinesh.

Anshu Malik, a silver medallist at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, who had participated in the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar in January, showed her support for the junior grapplers through a tweet. She expressed concern over athletes’ dreams being hindered when their rights are taken away and stood behind the demand for trials by junior players, considering it their rightful claim.


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