MOSCOW May 18 (Itar-Tass) - Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko said he was hopeful that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will restore wrestling in the Olympic programme.
“Wrestling was at the start of the Olympic movement and now it brings together 180 countries of the world. For many countries wrestling is a national sport and a good guide for young people. This is why their reaction to the IOC decision was quite predictable. I do hope very much that at its nearest meeting the IOC Executive Committee will return Olympic status to wrestling as this is the most affordable and accessible sport today,” Mutko said at a congress of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) on Saturday, May 18.
At the same time, Mutko noted that young people like extreme styles more nowadays as had been noted by the International Olympic Committee.
“Wrestling is a sport for broad sections of the population and young people, and this is very important. FILA should pay attention to interest among television channels and spectators. All this is in the strategy. A concept for wrestling reform should be ready in September. Many sports have travelled this way and it’s a pity that wrestling has to do the same now. Meanwhile, other sports are coming to the fore, sports that are popular among young people, dynamic and extreme sports, and representatives of classic sports should take all this into account,” Mutko said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had a brief meeting with Nenad Lalovic, acting President of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, in the middle of April, to discuss, among other things, the proposal to exclude wrestling from the Olympic programme.
“The issue was discussed,” presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. “Putin and Lalovic stressed the importance of wrestling as one of the Olympic sports,” he said.
Peskov said “Russia’s position on this issue remains unchanged: wrestling must be [among Olympic sports].”
Russia will do its best to keep wrestling in the programme of the Olympic Games, the presidential spokesperson said earlier.
“We will work at all possible levels and will continue official contacts with members of the IOC Executive Committee and IOC members, during which we will state our arguments against making this decision [to remove wrestling from the Olympic Games],” Peskov said.
On February 12, the IOC Executive Committee recommended that wrestling be removed from the Olympic Games in 2020, including free-style wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling and women’s wrestling. The decision is not final. The final decision is to be made by the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013, when the capital of the Olympic Games 2020 and their programme are to be determined.