Thursday March 14, 2013
Wrestling battling for its life, says interim boss
PARIS: Wrestling can regain its place as a core Olympic sport for the 2020 Games, the interim president of the sport’s world governing body, Nenad Lalovic, said on Tuesday.
But the 54-year-old Serbian said the future of the sport – one of the few to have breached the divide between the ancient and the modern Games – was at stake and it was effectively facing a battle for its survival.
The 15 members of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board decided in early February that the sport should be dropped from the 2020 Games, sparking outrage among wrestlers and fans and prompting a campaign for it to be reinstated.
Lalovic, who succeeded Raphael Martinetti as head of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) in the wake of the IOC decision, said he hoped reforms proposed since then would show they had taken criticism on board.
“It is a battle for the survival of the sport,” Lalovic told AFP by telephone from FILA headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. “If it’s not in the Games then it will receive less money and make it hard to keep going.
“However, wrestlers never know when they are beaten and if I wasn’t optimistic I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge. It is a huge challenge and it is a precarious situation that we find ourselves in.
“We must do everything in our power to regain our place in the Olympics. However, I am confident that we will regain our place for 2020. There is a unified spirit among our members and a steely resolve from the national federations.”
Wrestling will have to make its case along with the seven sports hoping to replace it and it is likely that the board will recommend two or three sports to the overall IOC membership to vote on in their Congress in Buenos Aires in early September. — AFP