United World Wrestling decided to suspend the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Thursday for not being able to conduct the fresh elections to appoint a new administration. A written warning was given by the UWW to the Indian Olympic Association in May regarding the upcoming suspension if the WFI elections aren’t conducted within the next 45 days.
This decision acts as a significant setback for the Indian wrestlers who will participate in the next Wrestling World Championships, as these wrestlers will not be permitted to take part under India’s flag and even if they win a gold medal, the national anthem of India will not be played for their victory.
A statement was released on May 30th that United World Wrestling questioned the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI for the details in relation to the upcoming elective general assembly. The Wrestling Federation of India must meet the original 45-day deadline for holding this election, failing which will result in suspension of the federation by UWW. It’s important to note that UWW had taken action against the Asian Championship and relocated to New Delhi earlier this year.
An ad-hoc body took care of WFI since January 2023, when Indian wrestlers started protesting against the former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and FIRs were filed for sexual harassment against him by the six female wrestlers.
After considerable delays, the election was scheduled on 12th August. However, it was postponed due to a stay that was imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This decision was made because of a petition filed by the Haryana Wrestling Association (HWA). The petition raised concerns about the participation of the Haryana Amateur Wrestling Association to cast their votes in the WFI election, as per the rules, only one association is permitted to represent the state in the WFI election.
Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj adjourned the case to 28th August and noted that, “the counsels for both parties argued that they hold an important right to vote in the elections for the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India, which were initially planned for August 12, 2023. As a result, the stay has been granted by the election of the Executive Committee until the next hearing date.