The original deadline to submit the names for the Hangzhou Games was July 15 but the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had given IOA an additional one week to send the wrestlers’ names under ‘exceptional circumstances’.
However the ad-hoc panel could not decide on a date for trials after a marathon meeting on Monday. Instead, it decided that IOA should approach the OCA again for further extension.
“We have requested IOA president (PT Usha) to use her office to urge the OCA to extend the date beyond July 22,” Ashok Garg one of the ad-hoc committee members told PTI after the meeting.
“Nothing else came out of the meeting. We are hopeful of a positive response from the OCA. We spoke to Mr (Bhupender Singh) Bajwa (ad-hoc panel head) and he said he will write the letter to Usha,” he said.
“In the event the OCA does not extend the deadline, then we will have a meeting tomorrow or maybe day after to decide the future course of action,” he said.
The move is being perceived as an attempt to favour the six protesting wrestlers who had sought time till August for preparation.
“It is clear that IOA is not thinking about the entire wrestling community but just the six wrestlers. It is clear that ad-hoc panel is being issued directions and it is not working independently,” said a coach, who did not wish to be named.
“They just want to help these six people but what about hundreds of wresters, who are awaiting trials. Isn’t it injustice to them, they have set weight and are left in limbo
“This ad-hoc panel is a sham. The two coaches in the panel are not behaving in an impartial manner. Never ever in my 20-year career I have seen such uncertainty around trials,” the coach added.
The six protesting wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, had requested the sports ministry to extend the extend the dates for the trials, saying, because of the agitation against outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, they were not in prime shape to appear for the trials.
The IOA chief had then written to the OCA to extend the date for sending entries by name to August 10 — later August 5. But the OCA only gave them a relaxation of seven days (July 22).
It won’t be a one-bout affair
Another ad-hoc committee member Gian Singh said the one-bout affair for the six protesting wrestlers is off the table.
The ad-hoc committee had come up with a proposal where the six protesting wrestlers had to appear for just a one-off bout against the winners of the trials in their respective categories.
But following strong opposition from wrestlers, their coaches and parents over the “favour” being given to the protesting wrestlers, the ad-hoc panel has shot down its own proposal.
“If we don’t get a response from the OCA in the next couple of days, we will announce the dates for the trials, which will be around July 20,” said Gian Singh.
“There will no longer be a one-off bout for the six protesting wrestlers. They (protesting wrestlers) will also have to undergo 3-4 bouts in trials. At best there will be 4-5 good wrestlers in a particular weight category.
“So they (protesting wrestlers) could be asked to compete against them, and whosoever emerges winner will be selected for the Asian Games.”
Singh also said that there will be no two separate trials for the Asian Games and the World Championships. He also conceded the one-bout affair had a “negative impact” on the ad-hoc committee.
“The one-bout affair had a negative impact. So we decided to close that chapter. Once the dates for the trials are announced, we will speak to the six protesting wrestlers,” said Gian, when asked if they had contacted the protesting wrestlers to appear for trials around July 20.
“There will be just one trial for both World Championships and Asian Games because there is not enough time left to hold two trials,” he said.
“Of course, Asian Games has six weight categories and Worlds 10, so the trials for the remaining four weight categories will be taken at a later date but there won’t be a long time gap between the two. Both trials will be held this month itself,” he added.
Another coach said they can’t understand the delay.
“They are hurting the sport this way. When they have got extension, why they want one more extension? This is beyond us,” said the coach of a wrestler.
(With inputs from PTI)