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Wrestlers Protest: Sports Min Asks IOA to Set Up Committee to Oversee WFI Polls

Vinesh, Bajrang and Sakshi are among the wrestlers who have returned to protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

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Wrestling
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With the country's top wrestlers going on a protest again, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has requested the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to constitute an Ad-hoc Committee to conduct fresh elections and manage affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

The Ministry has declared as null and void the upcoming elections for the WFI scheduled on 7 May and asked the IOA to constitute a Transitory Committee or Ad hoc Committee to conduct elections and manage affairs.

The Ad-hoc Committee will also be empowered to manage the affairs of the WFI including the selection of athletes and making of entries for the participation of sportspersons in international events, for the interim period till elections of EC of WFI are held and the newly elected EC takes charge, said an order issued by the Ministry on Monday.

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The Ministry had in January 2023 constituted an Oversight Committee (OC) for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), which has submitted its report to the Ministry.

As the report is still under examination and "it may take some time before appropriate action is taken on the recommendations of the Oversight Committee", the ministry has decided to go ahead and ask IOA to set up an Ad-hoc committee to manage elections and day-to-day affairs.

The report by the Oversight Committee has pointed at the "absence of a duly-constituted internal complaints committee under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act 2014 and lack of an adequate mechanism for awareness building among sportspersons for grievance redressal etc".

The Ministry in its order issued on Monday also said preliminary scrutiny of the OC report also highlighted the "need for more transparency and consultation between the Federation and stakeholders including the sportspersons".

It has also pointed out the "need for effective communication between the Federation and the sportspersons".

"Meanwhile, based on the reports in the media and from the notice dated 16-4-23 posted on the official website of the WFI, it is understood that the election to the Executive Committee (EC) has been scheduled on 07 May 2023. In this regard, considering the findings of the Oversight Committee, the election to the EC should be conducted under a neutral body." the Ministry said in its order.

"Since Wrestling is an Olympic sport and WFI is an affiliate member of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and taking note of the current situation of administrative void in WFI, it becomes incumbent on the part of the IOA to make suitable arrangements for the interim period for managing WFI so that sportspersons of wrestling discipline do not suffer in any manner," said the order.

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Vinesh, Bajrang and Sakshi are among the wrestlers who have returned to protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat at News Delhi's Jantar Mantar.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The Ministry has thus asked the IOA to set up an AD-hoc Committee for WFI.

The Oversight Committee, headed by legendary boxer MC Mary Kom and included former wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton player Trupti Murgunde, SAI member Radhica Sreeman and Rajesh Rajagopalan, ex-CEO Target Olympic Podium Scheme, and CWG medallist Babita Phogat, had probed allegations against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

With the ministry still examining the report submitted by the above-mentioned committee, the wrestlers led by Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik have launched another protest at Jantar Mantar in the National Capital demanding action against the allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

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