“Come forward, tell us”: PT Usha, Indian Olympic Association chief, backs wrestlers amid #MeToo protests

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha on Thursday said he was “deeply concerned and disturbed” by allegations of sexual harassment by prominent wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, saying the national Olympic body would do everything. It is possible to protect the interests of women athletes of the country. Prominent Indian wrestlers including Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and others have been protesting against the WFI president at Jantar Mantar here for the past two days, accusing him of sexual exploitation and intimidation and demanding that the federation be disbanded. .

“As the IOA president, I have discussed the current issue of wrestlers with the members and the welfare and well-being of the athletes is the highest priority of the IOA for all of us. We urge the athletes to come forward and express their concerns. We ensure a full investigation to ensure justice is done. We will. We have decided to set up a special committee to deal with future situations, to take swift action,” Usha said in a statement issued by the Indian Olympic Association.

On Thursday, a group of wrestlers, including Bajrang, Vinesh, Anshu Malik, Sakshi and her husband Satyabrata Kadian, met government officials and discussed their issues with Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi, Director General SAI Sandeep Pradhan and Joint Secretary (Sports) Kunal. .

In an hour-long meeting, the wrestlers were asked to end their protest and assured that their grievances would be addressed. However, the wrestlers wanted a concrete and immediate action and decided to continue their protest until the WFI removed the president and dissolved the national federation along with all state wrestling associations in the country.

Usha said that she has full confidence in the government and urged all National Sports Federations (NSFs) to cooperate in this regard. “While this entire episode is of great concern, I am very reassured by the swift response of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, who have sought an explanation from the federations concerned within the next 72 hours.

“I also have full faith in the Government of India, who I am sure will take the right steps in the right direction in this regard. However, as the IOA president, I sincerely hope that the sportspersons will not be deprived of their rights under any circumstances,” he said.

“The IOA also calls on all National Sports Federations (NSFs) to fully cooperate with all fact-finding bodies in the interest of Indian sports. The IOA will also do everything to safeguard the interests of women athletes,” Usha added.

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Wrestlers continue to protest against the federation over allegations of sexual harassment

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