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Wrestling expects to make Olympic shortlist

May 28, 2013 20:21 IST

Wrestling expects to make an International Olympic Committee shortlist of candidate sports for the 2020 Games as it battles to restore its Olympic presence, international federation (FILA) president Nenad Lalovic told Reuters.

"We of course expect to be in the shortlist," the Serbian said in a telephone interview before his departure for the IOC Executive Board meeting in Russia this week.

"We don't have guarantees but we will go to compete like on the mat and the best will win."

The IOC surprisingly dropped wrestling from the list of core sports for the 2020 Games in February, forcing it to join seven other candidate sports that will battle it out for the one vacant spot when the IOC session votes in Buenos Aires in September.

Yogeshwar DuttThe eight contenders will be reduced on Wednesday when the IOC announces a shortlist after brief presentations from the candidate sports. The IOC has not said how many will be short-listed.

The sport's exclusion triggered an angry backlash from the wrestling fraternity with several athletes returning their Olympic medals and some senior IOC members openly disagreeing with the decision.

Lalovic, who took over from Swiss Raphael Martinetti after the IOC axing, has led a frantic effort by the sport to improve conditions for a swift return to the Olympic fold.

The federation has approved more categories for women, eliminated draws and cut down on the number of competitors, as the sport, part of all-modern Olympics from 1896 - apart from 1900 - bids to return to the Olympic fold.

"We are being very encouraged by the reaction from the world of wrestling but it does not make us complacent. We have to prove the trust of those people in us," Lalovic said.

Squash, karate, wakeboarding, rollersports, baseball and softball, wushu and sports climbing are the other candidates hoping to make the shortlist for the September vote.

Wrestling also received a thumbs-up from the chief of the Istanbul 2020 Olympics bid with Hasan Arat saying wrestling, a national sport in his country, would be good to have if Istanbul were awarded the Olympics.

"It is important for Turkey," Arat told reporters in St Petersburg on Tuesday. "Important because of our success (in the sport). It is a national sport but it is an IOC Executive Board decision which we have to respect.

"I see they have made changes and hope wrestling will remain in the Games."

Madrid and Tokyo, also eager to see wrestling remain in the Games due to the sports popularity in Japan, are also bidding to host the 2020 Olympics.

Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images


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