Russia says it will ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep wrestling in the games. This after the IOC announced it would drop the sport from the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, says that supporters of wrestling worldwide are coming together to rally behind the sport, which has been in the games since the first modern Olympics in 1896.
Mamiashvili, a former Olympic and European wrestling champion, said that without keeping wrestling in the Olympic family, all our aspirations, all that history and all the heritage will effectively go to dust.
The IOC is a for-profit organization and wrestlers were warned that if the sport wasn't modernized, adapted for a new environment and made for better TV watching, it would be permanently dropped from the games.
At an extraordinary congress of FILA, the international wrestling federation, held in Moscow earlier this month, the organization approved a new set of rules. The guidelines affect both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling and include, among other things, a cumulative score for the entire bout, two three-minute periods, and separating returning athletes from previous world championships from other competitors.
Mamiashvili says FILA has done what the IOC has asked.
To put it mildly, we've done everything we could have done for the IOC to pay attention to us, he said. Wrestling is changing, he said, and wrestlers want to keep pace with modern sports and the modern Olympic movement.
Wrestling will have to compete with other sports, including baseball, wakeboarding, squash and others for a single open spot on the 2020 Olympic schedule. IOC members are expected to meet in St. Petersburg Thursday to make recommendations before a final vote on the issue by the IOC in Buenos Aires in September.