The protest by Indian wrestlers against the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brij Bhushan Singh, has been developing over the past months. The athletes have made their dissatisfaction clear, leading to a situation that has become increasingly political. The issue escalated to international levels when United World Wrestling (UWW) criticized the detention of several protesting wrestlers. In an act of protest, the athletes have decided to immerse their medals in the Ganga, a symbolic move that shows their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.
Thread 2: Government Funding and False Claims
There is a prevalent narrative suggesting the Indian Government is not providing adequate financial support to its athletes. This section of the thread examines the claim, drawing attention to the fact that the government does indeed fund sports activities significantly.
Thread 3-4: Rewards for Olympic Achievements
Specific instances of government support for athletes are brought forward in this section of the thread. Bajrang Punia, who won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, was rewarded with ₹2.5 crore and a position as a Gazetted Officer of Indian Railways. Similarly, wrestler Sakshi Malik received at least ₹3.5 crores following her bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.
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Thread 5-9: Government’s Investment in Sports Infrastructure and Training
The government has reportedly spent over Rs 150 crore on wrestling over the past five years, supporting infrastructure, training, and trips. Personal expenses of athletes like Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat are also covered, with significant sums spent on their training and upkeep.
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Thread 10-11: Comparing International Success and Funding
The thread discusses the disparity in international success despite significant funding. While India has won 35 Olympic medals, Japan has amassed a total of 575. However, India’s sports budget for 2023-24, at ₹3,397 crore, exceeds that of Japan, which is ₹2120 crore for the same period.
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Thread 12: Future Investments in Sports
The sports ministry has earmarked ₹190 crore for preparing Indian athletes for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Additionally, under the “Khelo India” campaign, approximately ₹3,200 crores will be spent on sports facilities over the next 5 years.
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Thread 13-14: Controversies Surrounding the Wrestling Federation of India
The thread highlights past controversies involving WFI and UWW. The UWW recommended its national federations end discussions or relations with WFI following visa denials to Pakistani Shooting sports persons. Additionally, 21 Indian wrestlers were denied visas for the U23 World Championships in Spain by the Spanish Embassy in New Delhi, including U20 Gold Medallist Antim Panghal.
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Thread 15: The Importance of Protests and the Symbolism of Medals
The concluding part of the thread emphasizes that protest is a democratic right, but it also reminds that the medals won by the wrestlers are symbols of national pride. They are not merely personal victories but represent the collective efforts and aspirations of the nation, and hence, they belong to India.
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