Wrestlers Protest IOA’s Exemption of Bajrang Punia & Vinesh Phogat from Asian Games Trials

New Delhi: Junior world champion Antim Panghal and several other wrestlers gathered on the streets to protest the “unfair” decision by the IOA ad-hoc panel. The panel had exempted Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat from the Asian Games trials. The protesting wrestlers demanded trials be conducted in all weight categories.

The protest, led by Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang (65kg) and World championship medallist Vinesh (53kg), took place at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. They were voicing their opposition to outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is facing multiple sexual harassment charges.

Antim Panghal, the U-20 world champion in 53kg, expressed dissatisfaction over the panel’s decision to exempt Vinesh from the women’s 53 kg freestyle category for the upcoming Hangzhou edition.

The protesters included wrestlers from Baba Laldas Akhada in Hisar and Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi, along with senior citizens from nearby villages. They were united in their demand for fair trials in all weight categories.

Ram Niwas, Panghal’s father, stated that they will continue their protest until the decision is reconsidered. If needed, they plan to stage a “dharna” at the IG Stadium in Delhi, where the trials are scheduled for July 22-23.

The wrestlers feel that the exemption is unjust and have highlighted the talent within their ranks who can compete in the 53 kg weight category. They express disappointment in supporting Bajrang and Vinesh during their previous protest against Brij Bhushan.

The wrestling community hopes that their collective efforts will lead to a fair resolution and ensure a level playing field for all athletes participating in the Asian Games trials.

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