International sports governing body slams Indian government's action against wrestlerstext_fields
Corsier-sur-Vevey: United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body for the sport of amateur wrestling, has condemned the Indian government's action against protesting wrestlers. A statement issued on Tuesday urged the authorities to carry out an impartial probe into the allegations.
The UWW has raised concern over the detention of the protesting wrestlers after photographs of champions Vinesh Phogat and her cousin Sangeeta Phogat being manhandled and pinned onto the ground by the police went viral on Sunday.
"For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge," said UWW in a statement.
"The events of these last days are even more worrying that the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities," added the international body.
"UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations. As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns," said the statement further.
The global body also threatened suspension if the government did not take necessary action. "Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year."
The images of wrestlers' detention had caused outrage across the nation. Former Indian cricket captain Anil Kumble said: "Dismayed to hear about what transpired on the 28th of May with our wrestlers being manhandled. Anything can be resolved through proper dialogue. Hoping for a resolution at the earliest."
Olympian Abhinav Bindra said: "Last night was sleepless, haunted by the horrifying images of my fellow Indian wrestlers protesting. It's high time we establish independent safeguarding measures across sporting organizations. We must ensure that if such situations arise, they are dealt with utmost sensitivity and respect. Every athlete deserves a safe and empowering environment."