Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and two-time world championships medallist Vinesh Phogat were exempted from appearing in the selection trials and got direct entries for the upcoming Asian Games 2023 by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) ad-hoc committee on Tuesday.
The circular signed by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Member-Ad-hoc committee, didn’t mention the names of Bajrang and Vinesh, but said that it has already selected wrestlers in men’s freestyle 65kg and women’s 53kg.
However, selection trials will be conducted in all the 18 weight categories, including in the divisions of Bajrang and Vinesh. The winner of the trials in these two weight classes (men’s freestyle 65kg and women’s 53kg) will be kept in standbys.
The exemption was granted based on Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) regulation for selection trials for the Asian Games.
“The selection trials in all weight categories are mandatory, however, the selection committee will have the discretion to select iconic players like medallists of Olympics/World Championships without trials provided recommendation by chief coach/foreign expert,” the WFI regulations say.
The wrestling selection trials for the Asian Games 2023 are scheduled on July 22 and 23. The greco-roman and women’s freestyle trials are scheduled for July 22, while the men’s freestyle trials will be held on July 23 at IG Stadium in New Delhi.
Notably, both Bajrang and Vinesh, who are currently training abroad, were the face of protest against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment.
With Bajrang and Vinesh getting exemption to compete at Asian Games at Hangzhou in September-October, other wrestlers are reportedly not pleased with the decision and might move to court.