Wrestling in Limbo: UWW Threatens to Re-impose Suspension

Taking note of further possible government interference in the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) operations, the United World Wrestling (UWW) recently forewarned the Federation that a provisional suspension would be re-imposed on it, which could extend to its athletes this time.

In its letter dated April 25, 2024, the world wrestling body reaffirmed its commitment to uphold the principle of autonomy and independence of its national federations per the UWW Statutes and the Olympic Charter. The said letter stated that in the event a decision is made against the Federation and a third party, an ad-hoc committee in this case, is appointed to oversee wrestling activities in the country, a temporary suspension would be re-imposed on the Federation, extending to the athletes this time around.

It is categorically stated that if such a suspension were to take effect, it would apply to the upcoming final Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament scheduled to take place in Istanbul this month. The letter also points out that further action in this matter may be mulled over by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The provisional suspension imposed on the Federation last year was lifted three months back. This led the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to dissolve the ad-hoc committee set up to oversee the WFI’s operations, even though the suspension imposed by the Sports Ministry still subsists. Owing to the prevailing situation, the concerned parties have approached the Delhi High Court seeking various reliefs.

While the petition filed by protesting wrestlers calls for the declaration of WFI elections as illegal[1], the plea later filed by the WFI challenges its suspension, alleging that the same was indefinite without a show cause notice.[2]

[1] Bajrang Punia and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. [WP(C) 3164 /2024]

[2] Wrestling Federation of India v. Union of India and Anr. [WP(C) 5226/2024]