India is set to lose the hosting rights of the Asian Wrestling Championship in the aftermath of the allegations of sexual harassment against the Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and the ongoing investigation into the claims.
The United World Wrestling (UWW) has conveyed the possibility of this to the government-appointed oversight committee during a meeting on Wednesday while rejecting their request for a postponement of the event.
The Asian Championships were scheduled to take place in New Delhi from March 28 to April 2, with the deadline for entries set at February 28.
The oversight committee, it is learnt, had earlier this month requested the UWW to postpone the Championship by a few days since it was scheduled in close proximity to the women’s boxing World Championship. Both tournaments were to be held in the same complex – Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
The UWW, it is learnt, was considering the request and was open to postponing the Asian Championship by up to a month. Eventually, though, they decided against it.
It is learnt that the UWW cited a written complaint it has received against Sharan from the wrestlers as one of the reasons. However, the content of the complaint wasn’t disclosed. The world body also pointed out the ongoing probe, which is likely to take at least two more weeks, and the government’s decision to suspend the activities of WFI as the other reasons for their decision.
The UWW, however, has assured that Indian wrestlers will be able to take part in the rescheduled Asian Championship, the host of which is likely to be finalised in the coming days.
The decision comes a month after India’s Olympic and World Championship medal winners, including the likes of Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, accused Sharan of sexually harassing women wrestlers and staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding his removal.
The government, after several meetings, decided to set up an oversight committee headed by Olympic medalist MC Mary Kom to probe the allegations. The committee was mandated to complete their probe within four weeks but the delay in finalising the names and the vast scope of work means it is likely to take more time than initially anticipated.
The continental event would have been the first international wrestling tournament to be held in the country since the pandemic and most top wrestlers were expected to take part in it.