14 February 2013

Namibia: Wrestling May Be Axed From 2020 Olympics

In a shock move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its Executive Board meeting on Tuesday announced its recommendation for wrestling to be dropped from its list of 25 core sports codes, a move many experts predict could result in wrestling dying a natural death after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Namibia Olympic Committee (NOC) Secretary General, Joan Smith, said it's still a bit early to predict anything as they have to wait for the final outcome once the IOC congress takes place in September later this year in Argentina. Smith said wrestling stands a good chance of surviving the relegation, adding that it has been a very active sport over the years and has grown at an impressive pace since its inception in 1896.

"People should not panic, because the IOC Executive Board on Tuesday merely made a recommendation and not a decision. A decision will however be taken at the IOC congress later this year in Argentina, but I'm very positive wrestling will remain within the Olympic programme even after the 2016 Olympics. Wrestling is very active in 180 countries worldwide and given that number, wrestling will definitely make it come the congress later this year," said Smith.

Meanwhile, sport administrator, Ndeuli Hamutumwa, also joined the chorus in expressing his dismay over the proposed axing of wrestling from the Olympic programme, saying it will definitely affect wrestlers and the whole wrestling fraternity in general.

Hamutumwa said wrestling has for the past few years grown extensively and it's one of those sports codes that does not need much funds to prepare the wrestlers. He said should wrestling be removed from the Olympic games, local wrestlers should not lose hope as they will still be allowed to compete at the Commonwealth Games and other international platforms.

In his somewhat unconvincing comments, Namibia Wrestling Federation (NWF) President Dawie Augustyn claimed that he was not aware of wrestling's propsed axing from the future Olympic pogramme, saying it was all news to his ears but would contact this reporter once he is fully briefed about this new developments

It is believed that the recommendation to axe wrestling from the Olympic programme was influenced by low television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation and popularity. The decision was also subject to political and sentimental factors.

The IOC Olympic Programme Commission "systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games in an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations", he said.

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