27 February 2024

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Wrestlers' protest

Wrestlers’ protest: Police actions against Indian athletes are quite distressing, according to the IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has criticised the treatment of India’s top wrestlers during their ongoing wrestlers’ protest.

It has also asked for an investigation into claims that Indian wrestling president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh sexually abused female athletes.

On Sunday, authorities apprehended the wrestlers as they attempted to march to the new parliament building.

They demanded the federation chief’s resignation and arrest.

Mr Singh, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), denied the charges and accused the wrestlers of being “politically motivated.”

On Tuesday, he informed reporters that the Delhi police were investigating and that if anything was found against him, he would be arrested. “Let the investigation proceed; it is in the hands of the Delhi police,” he remarked.

Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, as well as two-time world champion Vinesh Phogat, were among those arrested and eventually freed by police on Sunday. The police also filed rioting charges against them for Wrestlers’ protest.

Visuals of athletes being pulled and hauled away in buses went viral, eliciting condemnation from top athletes and opposition leaders.

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International Olympic Committee Remark On Wrestlers’ Protest

In a statement issued Tuesday night, the IOC “urged the safety and well-being of these athletes” and called for the probe to be completed “as soon as possible.”

It stated that it has been in close contact with United World Wrestling (UWW), the worldwide regulatory body of amateur wrestling, about the Wrestlers’ protest matter.

The UWW also published a statement on Tuesday, saying it was monitoring the wrestlers’ protests “with great concern” because of “allegations of abuse and harassment by the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).”

Wrestlers' protest

“It expresses its dissatisfaction with the lack of results of the investigations thus far,” the statement read, adding that the UWW would meet with the wrestlers to inquire about their safety and “reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns.”

The UWW also threatened to suspend the WFI if the organization’s upcoming elections were not held on time.

The wrestlers, who have been protesting for over a month, first demonstrated in January but called it off after the sports ministry stripped Mr Singh of his administrative powers and the government pledged to investigate their grievances.

However, in April, they resumed their protests, this time calling for his arrest.

The wrestlers threatened to hurl their medals into the Ganges, India’s holy river, on Tuesday. They stated that they had contemplated surrendering their medals to the president and prime minister, but were dissatisfied that they had not mentioned the protests even once.

“These medals are our spirit and life… “We no longer see the point in wearing these medals around our necks,” they declared in a statement.

However, Naresh Tikait, leader of the influential farming group Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), urged them not to discard their medals just yet. Mr Tikait then told reporters that he would give the government five days to act.

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