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UWW suspends WFI; Indian wrestlers to compete without Indian flag at Worlds.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has faced suspension by United World Wrestling (UWW) due to a failure to conduct timely elections, causing significant repercussions for Indian wrestlers. Consequently, these wrestlers won’t be able to participate in the impending World Championships under the Indian flag. Instead, they’ll have to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at the Olympic-qualifying World Championships, commencing on September 16. This situation emerged as the ad-hoc panel, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, failed to adhere to the 45-day deadline for election organization.

This news comes on the eve of the ad-hoc panel’s scheduled World Championships trials in Patiala. The ad-hoc panel, which was appointed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on April 27, was mandated to hold elections within 45 days. On April 28, UWW had already cautioned about potential suspension if the election deadline wasn’t met.

An IOA source revealed, “The UWW communicated to the ad-hoc panel on Wednesday night that WFI has been suspended for not holding elections to its executive committee.” Meanwhile, Gian Singh, a member of the ad-hoc panel, expressed his frustration with the lack of transparency from Bajwa, indicating their exclusion from decision-making processes.

The suspension poses a challenge to Indian wrestlers who previously secured a team title at the U-20 World Championship. Despite their achievements, their performances in the upcoming senior world championships in Serbia will not contribute to India’s records, as they’ll be considered ‘neutral athletes.’ This will change, however, at the Asian Games, where the wrestlers can compete under the Indian flag.

The WFI’s election saga began with an initially scheduled date of May 7. Yet, the Sports Ministry deemed the process null, prompting the IOA to institute an ad-hoc panel. Delays ensued as multiple state bodies sought participation rights. The timeline was further convoluted by court interventions, with the Gauhati High Court, Supreme Court, and Punjab and Haryana High Court all involved.

In response to the situation, the UWW noted in an April 28 letter that it had already relocated the Asian Championship, originally planned for New Delhi, due to the controversy surrounding the outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who faced accusations of misconduct.

This series of events showcases the complex interplay between administrative challenges, legal proceedings, and the larger international sports governing body’s actions.


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