New Delhi, Feb 13: India’s sports ministry and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognised Indian Olympic Association (IOA), led by Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Wednesday hoped that the apex body will review its decision and include wrestling for the 2020 Games. The sports ministry termed IOC’s decision as unfortunate.
“The decision of the Executive Board of IOC is most unfortunate and shocking to all the sports loving people in India. Keeping in view the vast popularity and mass participation in wrestling, the government has decided to discuss the matter with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and prominent wrestlers of the country,” the ministry said in a statement.
The government is also willing to take up the matter with other nations, where wrestling is a popular sport.
“Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will also take up the issue with other nations where wrestling is a popular sport. The ministry will take up the issue with IOC to reconsider its decision and retain wrestling in the category of core sports in Olympic Games. Ministry is hopeful that with these steps, IOC Executive Board meeting at St. Petersburg in Russia in May and 12th IOC Session at Buenos Aires Argentina will decide to retain Wrestling in core Olympic Games,” the statement added.
Malhotra, who is recognised by IOC as the acting president of IOA, offered full support to the WFI and world body FILA in their campaign to keep the sport going in the Olympic Games.
“The recent good showing by the Indian and other Asian wrestlers in the Olympics has given boost to sport in the region and thousands of youngsters have taken to it. Removing the sport from the Olympic programme will do immense harm to the sports and will de-motivate and demoralize these youngsters. I hope that IOC will reconsider its decision and keep Wrestling as a part of the Olympic programme,” he added.
The IOC’s executive board Tuesday decided to drop wrestling from its Olympic programme for the 2020 Games to make place for a new sport.
Wrestling, which includes freestyle and Greco-Roman events, has been part of the Olympics since the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.
India have won four Olympic medal from wrestling. Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was the first Indian wrestler to win an Olympic medal, a bronze, in the 1952 Helsinki Games.
At the London Games, 344 wrestlers competed in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman.