More than a thousand wrestling fans from across Haryana, who had swarmed to the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, had to wait for at least three hours to see their favourite players compete at the national free style wrestling competition that kicked off on Monday.
The wrestling matches for the country’s biggest prize money tournament ‘Bharat Kesri Dangal’, were supposed to start at 5pm but could only start after 8pm.
After an hour-long delay in the arrival of Punjab and Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, the chief guest of the day, documentaries showering praises on the state government’s sports department led by minister Anil Vij were telecasted on the giant LED screens installed across the jam-packed stadium. Cultural programmes of different hues were a respite, though.
The inauguration of the three-day event, being organised by Haryana government in association with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to honour revolutionary freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, seemed more like a PR opportunity for the state’s sports department.
It was only after 8pm that the first symbolic bout was organised before the governor could address the gathering.
“We need to remember the message of unity - Haryana ek, Haryanvi ek.. (one Haryana, one are the people of Haryana),” the governor said in his address. The first day of the tournament was scheduled to witness 46 matches but only 37 were played. The organisers announced that only 65 matches out of scheduled 90 will be played in the three days.
As many as 78 wrestlers have been shortlisted to compete in the tournament for the Rs 1 crore prize money. Only ten players out of these are from outside Haryana. No international players have participated in the tournament as said by the authorities before.
“We have been hearing about festivals to celebrate the martyrdom of freedom fighters. This effort is a step in the direction,” minister Anil Vij said on the occasion.
While the winner walks away with `1 crore, the first and second runners up will get Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh each.