WFI fears cancellation of Asian Jr Championships over Pakistan participation

The upcoming 2018 Asian Junior Wrestling Championships remains uncertain pending clearance for Pakistan and Afghanistan from the Home Ministry.

WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, also an MP, informed the media that it is yet to get clearance form the Ministry of Home Affairs to conduct the event due to ambiguity over participation of Pakistani grapplers. (Representational image)   -  Getty Images

Seventeen countries have confirmed their participation so far but the upcoming 2018 Asian Junior Wrestling Championships remains uncertain pending clearance for Pakistan and Afghanistan from the Home Ministry.

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Tuesday was categorical in his criticism of the government's handling of the issue with only a week left for the event, scheduled to be held from July 17-22 here.

“The teams want to arrive early to practice. We told them to at least clear the other teams if Pakistan and Afghanistan are an issue. I will be meeting the Home Minister tomorrow, hopefully I will be able to explain things and sort out the matter,” Singh said here. By Tuesday evening, the ministry had cleared all but the two teams for the competition.

Teams from Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea, North Korea, Mongolia and Tajikistan would be participating in the competition with approximately 146 Freestyle, 117 Greco-Roman and 100 Women wrestlers vying for 10 gold and silver medals each and 20 bronze medals.

But Singh wasn't happy. “This is not a bilateral event. Tournaments are allotted only after the host can assure participation for all interested teams. Pakistan's participation is not at our mercy, it is its right to participate. Their participation is our responsibility. We have complained about this earlier also and honestly, everyone including the teams, federations and UWW are fed up of this,” he stated.

“Pakistan has already complained to the international body before and now also. The UWW can take action against us, maybe even disaffiliate WFI and not allow us participation in major events. The delay hurts us also but people who are in-charge of these clearances do not understand the seriousness of the issue. The normal process takes around two months but we had sent our detailed proposal back in February itself. And yet here we are, waiting for the files to move,” he complained.

Foreign teams require clearances from MHA, sports ministry and the External Affairs Ministry before visas could be issued. The other two had been received much in advance.

Sonafa for World Championships

Meanwhile, Sonafa would be India's entry in the 61kg category at the World Championships later this year after winning the trials for the same. The selection had been postponed by WFI to allow renowned 57kg wrestlers who missed the Asiad berth a chance to participate but none of them – Utkarsh Kale and Ravi Kumar – turned up. Rahul Aware had withdrawn due to injury. Sonafa had won bronze in the national championships last year.