Picture Credit: Twitter

Picture Credit: Twitter

On June 17, Saturday, the Indian Olympic Committee (IOA) wrote a letter to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), requesting an extension to submit India’s wrestling team to August 15, for the Asian Games 2023, scheduled to be held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou. The IOA had already asked all the national federations in India to send them the final list of players by June 30 for the forthcoming continental multi-sport event, to comply with the demands of the OCA regarding squad submission by July 15 deadline.

But then, the current development regarding date extension has come to be, because the Indian wrestlers, including the likes of Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia, were involved in a longstanding protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief for sexually harassing women’s wrestlers.

It has been reported that the protesting wrestlers are keen to represent India in China during the quadrennial spectacle, but they need time to get in decent physical shape to compete at the trials, first and foremost. It is obvious that the top Indian wrestlers, who were taking part in protests against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, haven’t had much, if any time, to prepare themselves for a wrestling event of any standard in the past few months.

According to reports, the wrestlers wrote a letter to SPS Tomar, the Deputy Sports Secretary, to extend the Asian Games 2023 trials after August 10 of this year, which was forwarded by him to the ad-hoc body managing the WFI currently. Then, the body approached the IOA for a deadline extension, who wrote to the OCA for it.

The letter written by the IOA to the OCA, which has been signed by Kalyan Chaubey, was accessed by The Bridge, which read, “Today we have received an email from Mr. Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Member Ad Hoc Committee forwarding a communication from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India along with copy of a letter from six prominent wrestling athletes namely - Vinesh Phogat/ Bajrang Punia/ Sakshi Malik/ Satyawart Kadian/ Sangeeta Phogat/ Jeetandra Kumar requesting to conduct the selection trials for Asian Games and World Championships after 10 August, 2023.”

“In view of the above, we request for your kind help to consider extending the Entry by Name date of the Indian Wrestling team to 15th August 2023, so that these Wrestlers may also get a chance to participate in the selection trial of the Asian Games,” the letter further read.