Iranian official calls for efforts to prevent removal of wrestling from Olympic games

Head of the Medical Committee of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), Mohammad Tavakol says the countries having the first say in wrestling should make efforts to prevent removal of wrestling from Olympic games.

Talking to IRNA, Tavakol said wrestling is among five main branches of sports and influential in the start of the Olympic games, so it can not be removed so easily.

He said absolutely, such countries as Russia, the US, Iran, Turkey, Japan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that are hubs of wrestling, will try to prevent removal of this sporting event from Olympic games.

He said the National Olympic Committee has cited the low number of wrestling fans in the London Olympic Games as the reason behind the decision to cross it out of the internatioanl event.

As it looks to revamp the Games sports program, the International Olympic Committeeˈs Executive Board said in a surprise recommendation on Tuesday that wrestling should be removed from the 2020 Olympic Games.

Wrestling, contested in the first modern Olympics in 1896, will now join a list of seven other candidate sports battling for one spot on the program.

ˈThis is not the end of the process, this is purely a recommendation,ˈ IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters after the executive board vote. ˈIt is the session which is sovereign.ˈ

ˈIt was a decision to look at the core sports, what works best for the Olympic games. This was the best program for the 2020 Olympics. This is not about whatˈs wrong with wrestling but what is good for the Games.ˈ

The Executive Board vote comes as a major surprise after other sports, including modern pentathlon and taekwondo, were seen at risk of losing out on the Olympics due to their lower global appeal.

Board members were given a report on each of the Olympic sports which provided details on 39 criteria such as popularity, finances, tickets sold and governance, before a secret vote.

IOC sources told Reuters that in the secret ballot there were four sports battling to avoid the cut: field hockey, modern pentathlon, taekwondo and wrestling.

ˈI am very surprised by the result,ˈ board member and president of the International ice hockey federation Rene Fasel told Reuters. ˈPersonally I do not know why but that is what the majority wanted.ˈ

The IOC said 25 of the 26 Olympic sports were elected as core sports for the 2020 Games which will also include rugby and golf, making their first appearance in 2016.

Wrestling will now join baseball and softball, making a joint bid, martial arts karate and wushu, rollersports, wakeboarding, squash and sports climbing as candidates for the one empty spot.

Baseball and softball were taken off the program in 2005.

The IOC executive board will meet in St Petersburg in May to determine which of these will be put to the vote in September.

Wrestling had 344 athletes in total at the London Olympics, competing in greco-roman and freestyle disciplines.

Olympic exclusion will be a major blow to the sports popularity and financial stability as the Games are a global platform for the promotion of smaller, less established sports.

The international wrestling federation FILA has reportedly declined to comment on the decision.

Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul are bidding to host the 2020 Olympics with a decision also to be taken in September.

The decision, however, was welcomed by International Modern Pentathlon Union president Klaus Schorman.

ˈIn the last few years we acted and took decisions to make our sport more telegenic and more compact,ˈ Schormann said, quoted by Reuters. ˈSo every good news is further motivation for us.

‌By Payvand


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