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Russian Olympic chief calls for IOC wrestling rethink

Posted on Feb 13, 06:50PM | IANS

Moscow, Feb 13 : Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov says he intends to appeal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reverse a decision to remove wrestling from a list of core Olympic sports.

Tuesday's move by the International Olympic Committee's executive board drops wrestling into a category of eight sports vying for one place in 2020.

The decision potentially deprives Russia of a dependable source of Olympic success after the country topped the wrestling medal table at London 2012 with four gold, two silver and five bronze medals.

"I want to appeal to the IOC on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee with the request to keep wrestling in the Olympic programme," Zhukov said.

"I think it's extraordinarily important, not only for Russian sport and the million wrestling enthusiasts in Russia, but more broadly for the world Olympic movement."

In a website statement, the IOC's executive board did not specify why wrestling had been dropped. The decision must now be confirmed by the full IOC in September.

The seven other shortlisted sports are baseball/softball, karate, roller skating, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu.

The shortlisted sports will argue for their inclusion at an IOC executive board meeting in St. Petersburg in May, after which one of them will be nominated for approval by the full IOC at its September meeting in Buenos Aires.

"We will, of course, be putting all our efforts into convincing the members of the International Olympic Committee not to exclude wrestling from the Olympic programme," Zhukov said.

Zhukov, also a deputy prime minister and close confidant of President Vladimir Putin, spoke of his disappointment when he heard of IOC's decision.

"For Russia, of course, this is especially unpleasant news, because we have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of guys attending wrestling classes who dream of becoming Olympic champions."

"It will be a very big injustice if they have that dream snatched away from them."