Vanguard (Lagos)

16 February 2013

Nigeria: Igali Laments Wrestling's Ouster From 2020 Olympics

Former world and Olympics wrestling champion, Dr. Daniel Igali has joined other enthusiasts of the sport to voice their opposition to the International Olympic Committee, IOC's decision to delete wrestling from the events of the 2020 Olympics.

Igali who won all his international accolades representing Canada stated that he was shocked by the IOC decision to axe wrestling. This is even as IOC president, Jacques Rogge assured that there is still a chance wrestling will be reinstated.

"The rationale for the exclusion at this point is unclear and immaterial. It is highly disappointing. Wrestling is the oldest sport known to man. Wrestling has featured in every Olympic Games since the modern Olympics in 1896. Every nation and tribe all over the world has some variant of wrestling. At every world championships I have attended and watched since the 1990's, we regularly have over 70 nations in attendance. Over 40 nations qualified for the London Olympics. About 29 different countries won medals at the London 2012 Olympics. How many other sports can boast of such stats? Wrestling is a relatively cheap sport to compete at; it's relatively safe compared to other sports and rules regulating the sport are generally easy to understand," Igali said.

The Bayelsa State lawmaker however, said that the final decision on the matter will be taken in September and therefore, "We will endeavour to lobby IOC members from wrestling friendly countries to vote down the proposal by IOC executive committee."

Rogge will meet with the head of wrestling's governing body to discuss ways the sport can fight to save its place in the 2020 Olympics.

Rogge said Wednesday he's been contacted by Raphael Martinetti, the president of International Wrestling Federation, FILA, and was encouraged by the sport's determination to remain in the G ames.

"We agreed we would meet at the first opportunity to have discussions," Rogge said at a news conference at the close of a two-day board meeting. "I should say FILA reacted well to this disheartening news for them.

"They vowed to adapt the sport and vowed to fight to be eventually included in the 2020 slot."

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 manages to convince the IOC to reverse the board's decision.

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.

Rogge said he was fully aware of the backlash to the decision against wrestling, a sport which dates back to the ancient Olympics and featured in the inaugural modern games in 1896.

"We knew even before the decision was taken whatever sport would not be included in the core program would lead to criticism from the supporters of that sport," Rogge said.

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