Take up wrestling ban with IOC: Sports Ministry
New Delhi, Feb 20 : The Union Sports Ministry on Wednesday said it has urged International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Randhir Singh to urgently take up the matter of excluding wrestling from the 25 core sports for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games with the IOC Executive Board and request it to reconsider the decision.
"Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has urged the Member representing India in the IOC to take up the matter of excluding wrestling from the 25 core sports for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games urgently with IOC Executive Board and other forums and impress IOC upon the need to reconsider its decision and retain wrestling in the category of core sports in Olympic Games," said the Union Sports Ministry in a statement.
In a letter to Randhir Singh, sports secretary Pradeep Kumar Deb has said that the Indian government believes that the decision to exclude the sport of wrestling from the 25 core sports needs to be reconsidered.
"The letter says wrestling, which combines freestyle (Men & Women) and Greco-roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 and has always been a core sport from the first Olympics. It was also a part of the ancient Olympics in Greece," the ministry said.
"It says this ancient sport has helped Indian grapplers make a mark and bring India on the global sporting map. India has won four medals at the Olympic Games in wrestling," it said.
"Wrestling is a popular sport not only in India but also in many other countries such as United States, Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Mangolia, Japan, China, etc. The letter says the exclusion of the discipline from the Olympics is against tradition which is so much a part of Olympics. It will also deeply affect the sustenance of the game in the future," the ministry said.
The IOC last week decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 edition.
The decision of taken at the IOC executive board meeting as wrestling lost to taekwondo and modern pentathlon in a close voting.
Taekwondo and modern pentathlon enjoyed the backing of some effective insiders, who had lobbied hard for the retention of their sport. Wrestling, however, was not so lucky.
The sports were rated on 39 different criteria including television ratings and ticket sales based on the 2012 London Games.
At the London Games, 344 wrestlers competed in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman.
Wrestling, which is the national sport of Iran, will now have to fight it out with other sports like softball and baseball, squash, karate, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and rollersports for pitching its case for inclusion in the Olympics in May.
The changes will be ratified in September during the full session of the IOC in Buenos Aires.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the process was comprehensive and it wasn't a sudden decision.
"It was up to the executive board members to make a decision, it was not black and white and it was not an easy decision, but we wanted to allow room for the renewal of the Olympic programme," Adams was quoted as saying by the English media.
The IOC already had plans to reduce its "core" sports programme to 25 to make place for a new sport for the 2020 Olympic programme.