In a recent development, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has declined the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) latest plea to extend the deadline for submitting final entries of wrestlers for the Hangzhou Asian Games until August 15. This decision comes under the leadership of OCA’s newly elected president, Sheikh Talal Fahad Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
Sabah, based in Kuwait City, has communicated to IOA President PT Usha about their recent decision. They have made it clear that the deadline for submitting entries with specific names, which is July 23, cannot be extended any further.
Consequently, the deadline for organizing the wrestling team selection trials is set for July 22, with the final entries due the following day. To oversee the operational activities of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), a temporary committee consisting of two members has been appointed. This committee intends to hold the trials on July 21 and 22, although the exact venue has not yet been disclosed.
The wrestlers who were part of the protesting group, consisting of Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshee Malikkh, did not express a firm commitment to participate in the Asiad trials. This hesitation arose because they had been training overseas and had intended to return to India solely if the OCA granted the IOA’s appeal to extend the entry deadline. This extension would enable them to hold the trials from August 5 to 15.
Usha, along with Ajay H Patel, the senior vice president of IOA, and Kalyan Chaubey, the joint secretary and acting CEO, traveled to Bangkok last week. Their purpose was to persuade the OCA leadership to grant an extension for submitting entries until August 15. During the discussions, Sabah, who had accompanied them, assured the IOA representatives that he would raise the issue with the OCA’s office bearers upon his arrival in Kuwait City. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, Sabah conveyed the disappointing news to the IOA president, stating that the majority of OCA members had rejected the request.
As per information obtained from the IOA, it appears that the six wrestlers involved in the protest, namely Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshee, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Kadian, and Jitender Kinha, have not given any official confirmation about participating in the upcoming trials. The reason cited is their extended absence from training, lasting approximately six months, due to their involvement in a sit-in protest against the former WFI chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Moreover, these wrestlers are currently facing challenges in reducing their weights, which adds to their predicament in committing to the trials on such short notice.
Bajrang and Jitender have been diligently preparing in the picturesque surroundings of Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, Vinesh, accompanied by her trusted sparring partner Sangeeta, has chosen Budapest, Hungary as her training ground. The eminent two-time World Championships medallist is set to showcase her skills in the upcoming Polyak Imre & Varga Janos Memorial Ranking Series tournament, which is scheduled to take place from July 13 to 16.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has denied the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) request to extend the deadline for submitting wrestling entries for the Asian Games 2023. The wrestlers who were protesting the deadline extension are now uncertain about participating in the trials due to their extended absence from training and weight reduction challenges. Some wrestlers have been training overseas and have competitions scheduled before the trials.