The IOA-appointed ad-hoc committee has decided to conduct the Asian Games wrestling trials behind closed doors after parents of some of the wrestlers got into a heated argument with panel members at the IG Stadium on Friday.
Frayed tempers and heated exchanges was the order of the day as angry wrestlers and their family members threatened to boycott the trials in protest of the exemption given to Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia (65 kg) and world medallist Vinesh Phogat (53 kg).
The families of wrestlers reached the trial venue and argued with the ad-hoc panel alleging that the decision was “unfair” and “unjust”.
Parents of world U20 champion Antim Panghal and another wrestler Vikas Kaliraman’s father Subhash Kaliraman got into a heated argument with the ad-hoc panel members. Sensing trouble, the ad-hoc panel decided that it will be a restricted entry for the trials as no spectators will be allowed inside the wrestling hall.
Each wrestler will be be accompanied by his coach and masseur.
Ad-hoc panel member Gian Singh said the DCP of the region has been asked to have adequate personnel to ensure no one enters the hall. The trials will go ahead as per schedule and on Saturday selection will be done in six Greco-Roman and as many in women’s categories. The trials for six men’s freestyle divisions will take place on Sunday.
“Trials will take place tomorrow as the Delhi High Court has not given stay orders,” Singh said.
“Our job is to organise the trials and whosoever comes first we will send his or her name to IOA. The decision on who they (IOA) want to send to the Asian Games after that is their job,” he added.
The wrestling trials for the Asian Games snowballed into a big controversy after the ad-hoc committee handed direct entries to Vinesh and Bajrang, who spearheaded the protest against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The exemptions did not go down well with many young wrestlers like Antim and Sujeet Kalkal as they challenged the decision in the Delhi High Court demanding fair trial. Even Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, who was part of the protest against Brij Bhushan, and celebrated Yogeshwar Dutt had questioned the ad-hoc panel’s decision.
London Olympic medallist Yogeshwar, who is a member of IOA’s Athletes Committee, had several meetings with coaches and ad-hoc panel members Singh and Ashok Garg, both former wrestlers, and tried to convince them about the injustice being meted out to the younger crop of wrestlers.
Ad-hoc panel member Singh also said that the trials for World Championships to be held in Belgrade, Serbia in September will held next month.
“World championship trials will take place between August 10 and 15 between the top four wrestlers in each category from the July 22 and 23 trials and the six protesting wrestlers will also have to compete in those trials if they want to get selected for World Championships,” he said.
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