IOC plays down wrestling's exit after global uproar

Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:19am EST
 

By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE (Reuters) - The surprise recommendation to drop wrestling from the Olympics has angered athletes, officials and fans around the world and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) played down the finality of its decision on Wednesday.

The IOC's 15-member executive board voted on Tuesday to recommend that the sport be dropped from the 2020 Olympic program, with a final decision resting with the IOC session in September in Buenos Aires.

The vote prompted an instant wave of protest and anger from the sport's global community with the international federation (FILA) calling it an aberration, petitions launched with the United States White House and on-line wrestling support groups signing up thousands of supporters.

India's government said on Wednesday it would seek the support of other countries where wrestling is popular to help the sport remain an Olympic discipline.

"These reactions, they are quite normal," IOC Vice President Thomas Bach told reporters. "This would have happened with any decision. You have to find the right balance between tradition and progress.

"This was a decision about core sports and nothing more," he said of Tuesday's vote that cut the core Olympic sports from 26 to 25, leaving out wrestling.

"I am happy about FILA's reaction, to draw up a plan to act. That is the right way. Keep in mind a final decision has not yet been taken. If they (FILA) continue like that they will win a lot of sympathies," said Bach, a potential presidential candidate later this year.

The IOC's executive board will decide in St Petersburg in May to decide which of eight candidate sports, including wrestling, will be put forward to win the spot left vacant for the 2020 Games.   Continued...