Despite WFI suspension, wrestling trials for 2023 World Championships to proceed as scheduled
Despite the World Wrestling Federation (WFI) being suspended by the UWW for failing to hold elections in a timely manner, the trials to choose the Indian wrestling squad for the 2023 World Championships will go as planned on August 25 and 26.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was suspended by United World Wrestling (UWW) on Wednesday because it failed to hold elections in the allotted 45 days. As a result, Indian wrestlers will not be permitted to represent their country in the World Championships in Belgrade beginning on September 16.
The trials will go place as scheduled on Friday and Saturday in Patiala in all 10 weight categories for the men's freestyle, greco-roman, and women's divisions, according to Bhupender Singh Bajwa, the head of the IOA's ad-hoc commission.
“(The trials will go ahead), as per schedule,” Bajwa told PTI on Thursday. In light of the most recent developments, he would not say if a new circular will be published in this respect.
Gian Singh, another member of the ad hoc committee, affirmed that the Patiala trials will proceed as planned but expressed disappointment in the way the committee members had handled the matter, saying that "this situation (the suspension of WFI by UWW) could have been easily avoided." He stated that there was no need to further push back the already postponed trials to choose the Worlds team.
Due to the WFI election process being halted by a Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling, new dates were set. The trials were supposed to be completed by mid-August and the names delivered to UWW on or before August 16.
“Usually in such cases (when the national body is suspended), the UWW allows athletes to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at Olympic-qualifying World Championships. The Indian contingent could be given any name. UWW1 or UWW2 team and they can compete. But the medal won at the Worlds will not belong to the country (in this case India) but to individuals,” explained Gian.
Additionally, he advised against acting hastily because the situation may be remedied quickly.
“Sadly, the ad-hoc committee members have not been able to explain to the UWW that the legal process in India is independent of other processes. The ad-hoc panel members in their communications with UWW should have explained to them that WFI is not delaying the process. It’s a court order and can invite contempt. That way the 45-day deadline could have been avoided,” added Gian.
When the dispute is settled and a democratically elected WFI is in place, another member of the ad hoc panel stated on the condition of anonymity that any Olympic quotas that the "independent athletes" could earn at the World Championships will become quotas for the nation.
“There is no doubt that a democratically-elected WFI will be in place sooner rather than later, and UWW is quite accommodative in such cases. So the quota places won by ‘independent athletes’ will convert to quotas for the country,” he said, adding that “the same will not happen with medals”.