Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 9th 2013 Contents A46
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 9, 2013
BUENOS AIRES---Seven months after losing its
Olympic place, wrestling was reinstated for the
2020 Olympics yesterday as the IOC overturned a
decision that many members thought was a mis-
Wrestling easily defeated bids from baseball-softball
and squash for a spot on the programme of the 2020
Games, which were awarded Saturday to Tokyo.
Wrestling, which was surprisingly dropped from
the list of core sports in February, received 49 votes
to win in the first round of secret balloting by the
International Olympic Committee. Baseball-softball
got 24 votes and squash 22.
The decision capped a frantic six-month campaign
by wrestling body FILA to revamp the organisation
and reshape the sport to save its Olympic status.
"With this vote, you have shown that the steps
we have taken to improve our sport have made a
difference," FILA President Nenad Lalovic said. "I
assure each of you that our modernisation will not
stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best
partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be."
The vote followed final presentations by all three
sports, with Lalovic promising the delegates that
wrestling had learned its lesson.
"Today is the most important day in the 2,000-
year history of our sport," Lalovic said. "We feel the
weight of that history. Remaining on the Olympic
programme is crucial to wrestling s survival."
Wrestling goes back to the ancient Olympics in
Greece and has been on the programme of every
modern games except 1900. The sport was caught
off guard when it was axed by the IOC executive
board---a decision that surprised even most IOC
"We have made mistakes," Lalovic told the IOC
members Sunday. "We admitted but we decided to
listen and learn. This is the only way to be a partner
of the IOC. We are aware of our mistakes and they
will not happen again. We have to update our sport,
like any other sport, every day."
The result was welcomed by IOC members as rec-
tifying a mistake.
"We cannot imagine the games without wrestling,"
said Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the influential
Kuwaiti who heads the Association of National
Olympic Committees. "Wrestling is a founder. Today
was a great result."
Squash was trying to make the Olympics for the
third time. Men s baseball and women s softball
merged into a single federation to try to return after
being dropped for the 2012 and 2016 Games.
Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president
within days of the IOC vote and was replaced by
Lalovic. FILA revamped its structure, giving women
and athletes a role in decision making.
It added two weight classes for women. It adopted
rule changes to make the sport easier to understand
and more fun to watch, and reward more aggressive
Powerful countries and unlikely political allies like
the United States, Iran and Russia threw their weight
behind the campaign.
"Wrestling is new in virtually every way," FILA
official Jim Scherr told the delegates.
Each sport had 20 minutes to make its case to the
Don Porter, the American co-president of the
World Baseball Softball Confederation, choked up
and had tears in his eyes as he
talked about receiving letters
from young girls who were dis-
traught when softball was
dropped. "We want to give every
little girl and boy in the world
a chance to play our game,"
Porter said. Antonio Castro, the
son of former Cuban leader Fidel
Castro, played up baseball s
"Today we are the most pop-
ular sport in the world which is
not part of the Olympic pro-
gramme," he said. "As everyone
knows, baseball is not just a
sport, it s a business."
Squash federation chief N
Ramachandran said his sport
would represent the future, not
the past, an apparent dig at
"We would be a partner you
can trust," he said. "Squash has
never been in the Olympic
games. And we know what a
great honor it would be for
squash to join the sport pro-
gramme and add something new
to Olympic experience."
Wrestling wins IOC vote
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee
(IOC), left, shakes hands with Nenad Lalovic, head of the
International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA),
after the sports' presentation during the 125th IOC session in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, yesterday. Wrestling has been reinstated
for the 2020 Olympics, seven months after losing its spot. AP PHOTO
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