The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday sought government guarantees to ensure that political tensions with Pakistan do not lead to international events being taken away from the country. WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the United World Wrestling’s (UWW) diktat to international federations, asking them to snap communication with India, might jeopardise the nation’s chances of hosting the junior Asian Championships in July.
In a letter to Sports Ministry, the WFI attached the diktat which was circulated by UWW to its affiliated federations and sought an urgent solution. “We have asked the government to find a solution. We have not written much, we just attached the letter which has come from UWW,” WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.
WFI President said they will try to ensure that junior Asian Championship is not taken away from India. “Wrestling and wrestlers can’t suffer. We will do our best to ensure that the junior championship remains in India. A solution has to be found. I have not read the UWW directive as yet but whatever it is, no sport should suffer for no fault,” Singh, who was recently elected as WFI President for a third term, told PTI.
The UWW directive went out after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all talks with India on hosting of future events owing to denial of visas to Pakistani shooters for last month’s World Cup in Delhi in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
More than 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the attack, the responsibility of which was taken by Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed. Taking note of the visa denial to Pakistan shooters, IOC withdrew the Olympic Quota status of the 25m Rapid Pistol event from the prestigious event.
The junior Asian Championship is scheduled from July 9-14. India got its hosting rights after Lebanon expressed its inability to conduct the championship. India had hosted the junior Asian Championship last year as well and WFI had to wait quite a while to get visa approval for Pakistan wrestlers.
Tomar said the UWW wants an assurance from the Indian government that visas will be approved to all wrestlers from participating nations. “Yes, they have temporarily stopped all correspondence with us. They want assurance from the government that there will be no political interference in sporting matters. Let’s see what the government decides,” said Tomar.
“We have hardly four months to put everything in place. We did not bid for it but after Lebanon withdrew, it was offered to us by UWW-Asia. We had agreed to host it but now we can do it only if the government assures that visas will be given to all participating nations,” said Tomar.
Tomar said other federations could also face a similar situation in the coming days if government guarantees don’t come through. “This directive has come to us first because we are hosting this championship. The IOC does not want any political interference, so I will not be surprised if other national federations also get similar treatment from their respective world governing bodies,” he said.