Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat given direct entry into 2023 Asian Games by WFI ad-hoc panel

Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have been exempted from selection trials for the Asian Games. Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The WFI ad-hoc panel on Tuesday handed Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat direct entries into the Asian Games, a decision which was reportedly taken without the consent of the national chief coaches.

The ad-hoc panel said in a circular that it had already selected wrestlers in men's freestyle 65kg and women's 53kg but trials will be held in all six weight categories in each of the three styles - with the winners of those two categories reportedly classified as a 'stand-by'.

"As per the WFI Regulations of Selection Trials, the Selection Committee has already selected Wrestlers in 65 Kg (Free Style) and 53 Kg (Women Wrestling) for Asian Games 2022. But the trial will be held for these weight categories and the selected Wrestlers will be kept on Standby," said the ad-hoc panel's directive.

The ad-hoc panel did not name Bajrang and Vinesh in the circular but panel member Ashok Garg confirmed to PTI that the two wrestlers have been exempted from the trials.

The Indian Olympic Association's ad-hoc committee took the decision just four days before the trials to select the wrestling squad for the Asian Games, scheduled to commence on September 23 in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

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.

Bajrang, the 65kg wrestler, who was one of the six protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, is currently training in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Vinesh, the 53kg wrestler who won the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games gold medal, is training in Budapest, Hungary.

The move to exempt Bajrang and Vinesh, however, has apparently not gone down well with fellow competitors, who have threatened to move court.

Meanwhile, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who was the subject of Bajrang and Vinesh's months-long protest, has been ranted interim bail by a Delhi Court on charges of sexual harassment. However, his hearing has been moved to the 20th of July, with Singh's former secretary also receiving interim bail.

(with PTI inputs)