WFI Suspended for Delaying Elections, Indian Wrestlers Cannot Compete Under National Flag at Worlds

The Indian wrestlers will have to compete as 'neutral athletes' at the Olympic-qualifying World Championships.
WFI Suspended for Delaying Elections, Indian Wrestlers Cannot Compete Under National Flag at Worlds

In a major development, the United World Wrestling (UWW) on Thursday suspended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for not holding elections on time. A direct repercussion of this decision will be seen at the upcoming world wrestling championships where Indian grapplers will not be allowed to complete under their national flag.

Indian wrestlers will now have to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at the Olympic-qualifying world championships slated to get underway from September 16.

The the ad-hoc panel, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, was given a 45-day deadline to conduct the elecions which they have exceeded.

The Indian Olympic Association had appointed the ad-hoc panel earlier this year on April 27. UWW had on April 28 warned that it could suspend the Indian federation if the deadline to hold elections is not honoured.

“The UWW communicated to the ad-hoc panel on Wednesday night that WFI has been suspended for not holding elections to its executive committee," an IOA source was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Ad-hoc panel member Gian Singh told PTI that they are being kept in the dark by Bajwa on the related developments and that they are not part of decision making anymore.

“I have also heard that WFI has been suspended but I can’t tell you what the ad-hoc panel will do now. Mr Bajwa does not call us for discussion any more. I did not even know how the criteria were finalised for the Worlds trials," Gian said.

“Mr Bajwa is too busy, it seems," he added, indicating that the ad-hoc panel has failed to properly manage issues at hand.

Bajwa was contacted for a comment but he did not return calls or respond to text messages.

The Indian women’s team at the recent U-20 World Championship in Amman had won the team title for the first time in the Indian wrestling history ahead of powerhouses like Japan and USA.

The wrestlers earned points because they were representing their country but now at the senior world championships in Serbia, the Indians will compete as ‘neutral athletes’ and their performances will not be counted as India’s.

The wrestlers, though, can compete under the Indian flag the Asian Games, starting September 23 in Hangzhou, since it’s the IOA which has sent entries and not the WFI.

At the Worlds, it is the WFI which has to send entries after selecting a team through trials.

Originally, the WFI was to hold elections on May 7 but the Sports Ministry had declared the process as null and void and subsequently IOA installed an ad-hoc panel to run the sport in the country.

The elections have been delayed several times after that with multiple disgruntled and disaffiliated state bodies moving the court, seeking the right to participate in the polls.


The Returning Officer had originally set July 11 as the date for WFI elections but the Assam association moved the Gauhati High Court and succeeded in getting a stay on the polls on June 25 and the next hearing was set for July 28.

However, the Andhra state association challenged the decision in the Supreme Court which quashed the Gauhati High Court decision on July 18, paving the way for the conduct of the polls.

The Returning officer then declared August 12 as the new poll date but a day before the elections, Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the process on an application moved by Haryana Wrestling Association (HWA), which was led by Deepinder Singh Hooda before being suspended by WFI.

HWA had challenged the move to allow Haryana Amateur Wrestling Association to cast votes in the WFI polls.

Now this case is also pending in the Supreme Court and is likely to be heard on Friday.

Stay connected to Jaano Junction on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Koo. Listen to our Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Jaano Junction