In February, the IOC dropped wrestling from the Olympics from 2020 onwards and relegated it to candidate status. A diverse coalition of countries, including Russia, India, Japan, the U.S. and Iran all rallied around wrestling's attempts to regain its place. Source: Kommersant
After months of intense lobbying by a group of countries including Russia and India, wrestling has been reinstated as an Olympic sport, beating two other candidate disciplines in an International Olympic Committee vote on Sunday.
The sport featured in the ancient Olympics and in all the modern edition of the games except 1900. In February, the IOC dropped wrestling from the Olympics from 2020 onwards and relegated it to candidate status. A diverse coalition of countries, including Russia, India, Japan, the U.S. and Iran all rallied around wrestling's attempts to regain its place.
Wrestling won a majority of 49 votes Sunday, ahead of a joint baseball and softball bid on 24 and squash on 22.
“To the millions of wrestlers, supporters and fans around the world that came together to save Olympic wrestling; I offer a very big thank you,” Nenad Lalovic, president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, said in a website statement.
“Every one of you fought very hard for this victory. Now we must remain united to make certain we live up to the expectations that have been placed on all of us by virtue of this vote."
Wrestling’s governing body has made a range of changes to the rules since the sport lost its Olympic place and also tried to give women’s competition a higher profile.
“With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference,” Lalovic said.
“I assure each of you that our modernization will not stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be.”
The news was also welcomed by India’s two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar. “It's a great news for the wrestling fraternity,” Kumar told PTI. “The decision will motivate the younger crop to take up the sport. I am happy that the ancient sport has been reinstated as it deserves to be in the Olympic movement.”
The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, which beat Istanbul and Madrid to the honour Saturday.
“I was confident about wrestling making the cut,” IOA acting President V K Malhotra told PTI. “When Japan was given the hosting rights, it was a positive sign for wrestling as it has rich past in the sport. We had a strong case in our favour and I am glad that the IOC backed our move.”
First published in R-Sport.
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