The BJP government of Uttar Pradesh, led by chief minister Yogi Adityanath has adopted the sport of wrestling until 2032 and, is slated to pump in ₹170 crores in infrastructure and support to wrestlers till the 2032 Olympics. The move comes in the backdrop of Odisha and its chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, earning admiration from all quarters for adopting Hockey, leading to India putting up a stellar show at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics. Taking inspiration from Odisha, the Yogi Adityanath-led government is now going to tap into the skills of budding wrestlers and ensure that everyone with potential in wrestling receives the best of training and exposure.
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh on Thursday said that the WFI took inspiration from the Odisha government’s support to the sport of hockey and approached the UP government for similar assistance to their game. PTI quoted Singh as saying, “Odisha is a small state, yet they are supporting hockey in such a great manner, so we thought, why can’t UP, which is such a big state, support wrestling. We approached them and the CM Yogi Adityanath has accepted it.”
The Wrestling Federation of India president also said, “With this happening, sponsorships will not be restricted to just country’s elite wrestlers. Even the Cadet level wrestlers will get sponsorship and we will able to give prize money to even national champions…Now we can send our Cadet wrestlers abroad for training and exposure. We need to take wrestling to the next level.”
According to the WFI’s proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government, which Yogi Adityanath has accepted, until the 2024 National Games, ₹10 crores will be pumped in annually, totalling ₹30 crores in the next three years. Subsequently, until the 2028 Olympic cycle, support of ₹15 crores per year would be provided by the UP government, amounting to ₹60 crores. In the final phase, the UP government will invest ₹20 crores annually in the sport, making up another ₹80 crores. Till 2032, therefore, the Uttar Pradesh government will be putting in ₹170 crores into wrestling.
The WFI has even proposed to the UP chief minister that international wrestlers come to India for training and that it is not always Indians who are flying out. Brijbhushan Sharan Singh said, “Let me tell you that we will have state-of-the-art wrestling academies in India for both men and women. One academy in Lucknow will surely come up and we are hopeful that another is developed in Noida, where we will invite international wrestlers to come, stay and train with our wrestlers.”
After the Indian hockey teams put up a great show at the Tokyo Olympics, demands had grown in India for every state to adopt at least one sport and nurture it over the long term, leading to India excelling in multiple sports a few years down the line. The Odisha model has been hailed as a beacon, and the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh has adopted the same strategy now. So far, wrestling has been heavily concentrated in Haryana alone. With the UP government adopting the sport, wrestling will be federalised and the chances of India winning gold medals at upcoming Olympic events will rise exponentially.
Wrestling has been an Indian sport for aeons, and Yogi Adityanath choosing to support it does not come as a surprise. India should be among the best performers in wrestling around the world, and the Uttar Pradesh government is about to make sure that it soon is.
All states must make it a point to adopt at least one sport like Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. It is the least which states can do to bolster India’s sporting performance internationally. Even if 20 states end up adopting 20 different sports, a few years down the line, India will excel at the Olympic games, and other major sporting events like it never has. What Indian sports need is an investment, and states like UP and Odisha are grandly leading the way for others.