Japan opens petition to save Olympic Wrestling

Tokyo, Feb 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Japan Wrestling Federation Monday launched a petition to demand that the sport be reinstated as an Olympic discipline.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) struck wrestling from the list of 25 confirmed sports for the 2020 Olympics earlier this month and relegated the sport to one of eight candidate sports battling for the final remaining spot on the schedule.

“Once you have collected many voices, they will have the power to move the world,” the federation said in a website statement announcing the “Save Olympic Wrestling” petition.

“Now is the time to mobilize the power of those who support wrestling.”

The federation aims to gather 100,000 signatures on paper and online and present them to the IOC executive board in May.

Japan is a perennial heavyweight contender in Olympic wrestling and came second in the London 2012 wrestling medals table with four gold medals, behind only Russia.

Tokyo is one of the favourites to host the 2020 Olympics, and wrestling’s absence would damage Japan’s medal hopes in front of the home crowd.

Japan already occupies a prominent role in calling for wrestling’s reinstatement, with Japanese official Tomiaki Yukuda installed as the joint head of a dedicated taskforce at the sport’s world governing body FILA.

Wrestling’s cause has brought together unlikely allies, with US and Iranian national Olympic officials among those to call for the sport’s reinstatement.

The final decision on the Olympic program for the 2020 Games will be made by the IOC in Buenos Aires in September along with the announcement of the host city.

The sport has been included in various forms at every Olympics since 1904. In recent years, it has attracted scant spectator interest outside its stronghold countries and faced claims of corrupt refereeing at the Games.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

bs/dg

IANS