IOC president, wrestling head to meet

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 7:57 am

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Facing a wave of criticism from around the world, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge will meet with the head of wrestling's governing body to discuss ways the sport can fight to save its place in the Olympics.

The IOC executive board dropped wrestling from the program of the 2020 Games on Tuesday, a decision that brought a sharp backlash from wrestling organizations and national Olympic bodies worldwide, including those of the United States, Russia and Iran.

Rogge said Wednesday he has been contacted by Raphael Martinetti, the Swiss president of international wrestling federation FILA.

"We agreed we would meet at the first opportunity to have discussions," Rogge said. "I should say FILA reacted well to this disheartening news for them."

Wrestling, which remains on the program for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, still has a chance to stay on the list for 2020 if it can respond decisively to the wake-up call and convince the IOC to reverse course.

Wrestling joins seven other sports vying for one opening on the 2020 program: a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the martial art of wushu.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC General Assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

There are potential scenarios that would work in wrestling's favor.

IOC officials said the executive board could decide in May to put three sports forward for consideration, including wrestling. Then it would be up to the assembly to approve wrestling.

If the board decides to keep wrestling off the list, the IOC assembly – which has resisted past attempts by the board to impose changes to the sports program – could reject the proposed list of 25 sports altogether. That would mean the current 26 sports, including wrestling, would stay and the whole process would go back to square one.

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