Source: Tehran Times
Wrestling won back its spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after beating bids from rivals squash and baseball/softball in an International Olympic Committee vote on Sunday, Reuters reported. Wrestling, which featured in the ancient Olympics and in every modern Games apart from 1900, had been surprisingly taken off the Games in February as the IOC looked to refresh its sports program.
Sunday's result marks a sensational turnaround for the sport which overhauled its rules, administration, gender equity and operations following its shock exclusion.
"Thank you for this opportunity to save our sport of wrestling," FILA president Nenad Lalovic said in wrestling's presentation to the IOC at the Buenos Aires Hilton.
"Today is the most important day in the 3,000-year history of our sport. And believe me, we feel the weight of that history. Remaining in the Olympic program is crucial to our survival," Lalovic was quoted by media as saying.
Wrestling's inclusion means the Olympic core sports program remains unchanged from 2016 to 2020. Rugby and golf were previously added for the 2016 Olympics.
"The program must remain dynamic," outgoing IOC president Jacques Rogge said Sunday morning. "That is essential for the success of the Olympic Games."
It made major changes the last seven months amid the backdrop of widely publicized "Save Olympic Wrestling" and "Keep Olympic Wrestling" campaigns. Swiss Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president in February, replaced by Lalovic.
"We have made mistakes," Lalovic said. "We admitted it, but we decided to listen and learn. We are aware of our mistakes, and they will not happen again."
It replaced two men's weight classes (one each in freestyle and Greco-Roman) with two women's weight classes (freestyle, as there are no Greco-Roman women's Olympic classes). It also simplified its rules and scoring, making it easier to understand and awarding more aggressive strategy.
"Wrestling is new, in virtually every way," former U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr said as part of wrestling's presentation. "EB's (the IOC executive board) decision was a wake-up call for FILA."
Wrestlers protest Olympics' decision to eliminate wrestling from the competitions
Wrestling World Cup - Tehran, February 21, 2013 (see high resolution)
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