Wrestlers vow to fight Olympic removal
PARIS (AFP) – Wrestlers around the world on Wednesday vowed to fight to save the ancient sport’s Olympic status, after the International Olympic Committee voted to drop it for the 2020 Games.
Japan and Turkey – whose cities Tokyo and Istanbul are bidding to host the Games in seven years’ time – led the calls for the world body to reconsider, as an online petition was organised urging a rethink and gained thousands of supporters.
The president of the Turkish wrestling federation, Hamza Yerlikaya, called the decision, taken at the IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, “unfair” and a “mistake” that they would seek to overturn.
“To have the 2020 Olympics in Istanbul without wrestling is unthinkable,” said Yerlikaya, himself a double Olympic gold medallist, three-time world champion and eight-time European champion in Greco-Roman wrestling.
“We won’t allow it,” he added.
In Japan, Yerlikaya’s counterpart Tomiaki Fukuda said on his federation’s website that he was “dissatisfied and baffled”, echoing the views of the sport’s world governing body, which called the decision “an aberration”.
“I want to know the reasons why the IOC removed wrestling,” he said, adding later at a news conference: “The final verdict has yet to be made,” he later told a news conference. “It will depend on our efforts and actions hereafter.”
Wrestling will remain on the programme for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but faces a fight against seven other sports for inclusion at the Games four years later. A final decision is to be made when all IOC members meet in September.