IOA’s athletes physique members complain over not supporting wrestlers

The Indian Olympic Affiliation (IOA) Athletes Fee — a 10-member physique shaped final November to be the voice of athletes — needed to concern a public assertion in assist of the protesting wrestlers on Saturday however have been stopped by a senior member of the physique, two members of the physique mentioned.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Sangita Phogat throughout their protest at Jantar Mantar(PTI)

The AC met just for the second time since inception on Saturday although boxing icon MC Mary Kom, its chairperson, was absent. The assembly was chaired by desk tennis ace Sharath Kamal, who’s the vice-chairperson.

Mary was additionally absent from its first assembly in January, two AC members, who didn’t want to be recognized, mentioned.

“We were all on the same page. We agreed that the AC has largely failed the wrestlers. There has not been a single statement acknowledging them, neither in January nor in April,” they mentioned.

“So, it was decided we put out a public statement in support of the wrestlers. The letter was drafted but just before we were to make it public, it was blocked,” a member mentioned. The letter had pointed to a “lack of a proper institutional redressal mechanism” and urged the necessity to “put systems in place to regain the faith of the athlete community.”

“The members of the IOA Athlete’s Commission are unanimously and deeply concerned that our colleagues from the athletes’ fraternity have levelled serious allegations against the national federation, WFI, ranging from sexual harassment, sports code violations and ethics complaints,” it learn.

“A majority of those who attended the meeting wanted the statement to go out, but since only six members were present, it was not really AC’s majority,” a member who attended mentioned.

In addition to Mary and Sharath, the fee members are Gagan Narang, Om Prakash Karhana, Shiva Keshavan, Bajrang Lal, PV Sindhu, Bhavani Devi, Rani Rampal and Mirabai Chanu. Abhinav Bindra and Sardar Singh, ex-officio members, didn’t attend.

Mary Kom, who additionally headed the union sports activities ministry oversight committee that submitted an inquiry report into the sexual harassment allegations, attended the PC Chandra Puraskar operate in Kolkata on Sunday. She didn’t touch upon the wrestling controversy when requested.

Some members of the IOA athletes’ physique although have felt annoyed that it has not supported the protesting wrestlers. In January, throughout the first part of protests, a minimum of one AC member reportedly needed to go to the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar to specific solidarity however was disuaded by one other committee member.

“They were told that the AC should present a united front in public and personal visits in such situations should be avoided,” a member mentioned. “There was also dismay and shock at (IOA president) PT Usha’s comments. The consensus was that such a statement shouldn’t have gone from the IOA president,” the member mentioned.

On Saturday, with the fee about to take its first public stance in assist of the wrestlers, the member invoked a privateness clause – Clause 8.9 of the Athletes Fee rules – to cease them.

“No documents, information, discussion and decisions made at a Commission meeting or otherwise exchanged or agreed in connection with the work of the Commission shall be disclosed to any person before it is disclosed to the CEO and the Executive Council of the IOA,” the clause states.

Commenting on the AC inaction in his capability as an IOC Athletes Fee member, Bindra mentioned, “As athlete representatives, it is both our duty and our moral obligation to do everything we can for the well-being and safety of the community and importantly ensure the athletes’ voice is heard. Athlete commissions must effectively be able to communicate with the larger community to achieve this goal.”

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