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Business News/ News / India/  ‘Very disturbing’: After UWW, IOC voices support for Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat

‘Very disturbing’: After UWW, IOC voices support for Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat

The International Olympic Committee has condemned the Delhi police's manhandling of protesting wrestlers as ‘very disturbing’. The IOC has asked the Indian Olympic Association to protect the athletes and ensure WFI elections go ahead as planned.

Security personnel detain wrestler Sakshi Malik during wrestlers' protest march towards new Parliament building, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 28 (PTI)Premium
Security personnel detain wrestler Sakshi Malik during wrestlers' protest march towards new Parliament building, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 28 (PTI)

The protesting wrestlers returned home to Haryana from Haridwar. They had gone to Haridwar to immerse their hard-earned gold medals in Ganges river. All wrestlers except Sakshi Malik returned home attune to farm leader Naresh Tikait's assurance of a result in a five day deadline. 

On Tuesday, United World Wrestling's (UWW) had criticised the treatment meted out to protesting wrestlers on Sunday 28 May by the Delhi Police. The incidence being referred to is when the Central government's Delhi Police manhandled the international athletes peacefully protesting. 

The UWW criticised the detention and threatened to suspend the national federation if it fails to hold its election within the stipulated time.

Now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has condemned the manner in which the protesting Indian wrestlers were being treated by Delhi Police over the weekend, terming it "very disturbing" in a strongly-worded statement.

The top wrestlers -- Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat -- have accused the Wrestling Federation of India's (WFI) outgoing president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual exploitation.

"The treatment of the Indian wrestling athletes over the weekend was very disturbing. The IOC insists that the allegations by the wrestlers are followed up on by an unbiased, criminal investigation in line with local law," the IOC said in the statement.

"We understand that a first step towards such a criminal investigation has been made, but more steps have to follow before concrete actions become visible. We urge that the safety and wellbeing of these athletes is duly considered throughout this process and that this investigation will be speedily concluded."

Unprecedented scenes of police dragging Olympic and World Championships medallists, including Sakshi, Vinesh, Bajrang and Sangeeta, were witnessed when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon during their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women's 'Mahapanchayat' on Sunday.

The wrestlers are demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan for allegedly sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor.

The IOC further said in its statement, "From the very beginning of the allegations, the IOC has been in close contact with United World Wrestling (UWW), which has already taken measures.

"The IOC supports UWW as the competent sporting authority to address this issue as it pertains to the governance of the sport of wrestling in India. We have been informed by UWW that the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is currently not in charge.

"The IOC will continue to support UWW in all their efforts and in the framework of the IOC Guidelines for International Federations and NOCs for safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse in sport."

The IOC asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take the necessary actions "to protect the athletes and to make sure that the elections of WFI are happening as planned and in line with the regulations of UWW as an International Federation".

Regarding the WFI elections, wrestling's international governing body said in its statement, "... 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."

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Updated: 31 May 2023, 10:24 PM IST
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