Why was the WFI suspended by United World Wrestling?

Source: The post is based on the article “Why was the WFI suspended by United World Wrestling?” published in “The Hindu” on 29th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS2 – Governance – Important International institutions.

News: This article talks about the suspension of India’s Wrestling Federation (WFI) by United World Wrestling (UWW) because of delayed elections and accusations against the ex-president. This led Indian wrestlers to compete using the UWW flag instead of their own country’s flag.

What are the reasons for the suspension of India’s Wrestling Federation (WFI) by United World Wrestling (UWW)?

Election Delays and Legal Hurdles:

WFI didn’t conduct its elections on time.

The Gauhati High Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court imposed stays on elections due to demands from various state associations.

Allegations and Athlete Protection:

Wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat, alleged sexual harassment, intimidation, financial misconduct, and administrative lapses against former WFI president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The UWW Disciplinary Chamber highlighted concerns for the protection of athletes following these allegations.

Non-compliance with UWW Regulations:

The ongoing situation, coupled with the absence of an elected president and board, contradicted UWW’s membership conditions.

The chamber stressed the importance of restoring the federation’s normal operation.

What will be the impact of this suspension?

Representation: Indian wrestlers will compete under the UWW flag, not the Indian flag.

National Pride: No Indian national anthem will be played if a wrestler wins gold in UWW events, like the World championships in Belgrade.

Administration: In the absence of WFI’s elected body, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appointed ad-hoc committee manages the federation.

What is the way forward?

Elections: Conduct WFI elections in a transparent, free, and fair manner to regain UWW’s trust.

Unified Approach: Different factions within WFI must recognize the sport’s damage and work cohesively for its betterment.

Limit Influences: Wrestlers aim to keep loyalists of Brij Bhushan, the former president, out of power to ensure a fair administration.

Inclusive Participation: Wrestlers have identified preferred candidates for the elections, implying active involvement in the decision-making process.

Address Grievances: Prioritize addressing allegations and concerns raised by wrestlers to restore faith and confidence in the federation.

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