IOA ad-hoc panel pushes back decision on wrestling trials, awaits OCA response deadline extension

NEW DELHI, Jul 4: The IOA ad-hoc panel members met on Tuesday but could not finalise a date to conduct wrestling trials for the Asian Games and World Championship as the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) was still sitting on its request for July 15 deadline extension.

The IOA is supposed to give names of all participating Indian athletes to the Asian Games organisers by July 15 and it had requested them to extend the deadline to August 10 so that it could provide the protesting wrestlers enough time to be ready.

Six wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, among others, had requested the sports ministry to grant them additional time to prepare for Asian Games trials.

They had contended that they are not in good physical shape to appear in trials due to their 38-day long protest against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The ad-hoc panel, on its part, had exempted them from Asian Games and World Championships trials and made it a one-bout affair, a move that invited criticism from all quarters.  “Wait for a day or two. We are hoping it (OCA reply for extension) should come in a day or two. Though we have not got any indication about the extension, we are hopeful of getting positive news by Thursday,” Bajwa told PTI.

Wrestling coach Gian Singh, who was added to the ad-hoc three-member ad-hoc panel later, is hping that OCA will eventually extend the deadline. “It’s not yet confirmed but I sense it will happen. There was a meeting today but no decision was taken. Now another meeting will take place on July 6. It means that trials cannot be held at such a short notice (before July 15). Mr. Bajwa is not saying it openly. He is saying it will happen but he is not confirming it,” added Singh, a Dhyan Chand awardee.

Singh, though, said he was certain the extension will come soon. “I am confident that it (extension) will happen because if trials are held after July 6, there will be logistical problems. Are you not going to give time to wrestlers to prepare (travel plan)?” he said.