Russia vowed to overturn a decision to exclude wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, saying the move flouts the games’ traditions and the interests of hundreds of millions of fans around the world.
“We will look for a compromise and ways to convince the members of the International Olympic Committee that this sport, which was part of the ancient games and is loved by hundreds of millions of people across the globe, should remain,” Mikhail Mamiashvili, Russia’s representative to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, or FILA, said by phone from Thailand today.
FILA dismissed its president, Raphael Martinetti of Switzerland, two days ago at a meeting in Thailand, after Russia accused him of negligence for failing to prevent the Olympic exclusion. Russia won four of its 24 Olympic gold medals last year in wrestling. Russians dominated the medals count in the sport during the London games, with 11 in total, followed by Azerbaijan and Iran.
Wrestling, which has been in the modern Olympic program since 1896 and was part of the ancient games in Greece, was removed from the “core sports” for the 2020 games, the International Olympic Committee said Feb. 12. Instead, it will vie for a place with karate, roller sports, climbing, squash, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu, as well as baseball and softball, which are seeking inclusion under a single sports banner.
Mamiashvili spent half the night trying to persuade colleagues to oust Martinetti, the Russian Wrestling Federation said in a statement on its website on Feb. 16. The move followed a vote of no confidence by the FILA board in Thailand, according to the federation, which Mamiashvili heads.
Martinetti “bears full responsibility for what happened,” Mamiashvili said today. “He completely distanced himself from resolving the problem and didn’t keep the board informed for several years.”
FILA will elect a new head in late April or early May, according to the Russian federation.
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