Vinesh Phogat, World Championship medallist, has decided to return her Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award to the government. Vinesh made this decision to protest against the election of Sanjay Singh, a Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh-loyalist, as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president. This move by Vinesh comes after Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and Deafylmpics champion Virender Singh Yadav returned their Padma Shri awards.
“I am returning my Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award,” Vinesh announced in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The wrestlers had demanded that no close associate of Brij Bhushan should enter the WFI administration. Following the election, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik announced that she would quit the sport.
The Sports Ministry later suspended the newly-elected panel for not following the provisions of its own constitution while taking decisions and also asked the IOA to constitute an ad-hoc panel to manage the affairs of the sports body. In suspending the fresh panel, the government cited its “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.