Wrestling’s reforms are on a roll, no matter what the International Olympic Committee decides on Sept. 8, according to the sport’s federation president in a press conference in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Nenad Lalovic, who took over FILA within days of the IOC decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics after the 2016 Rio Games back in February, said, “Whether we win or lose in Buenos Aires the reforms will continue as we have an obligation to the athletes and the sport."
In a little more than a week from now, IOC members will gather in Buenos Aires to determine whether wrestling, squash or a combined baseball-softball bid will be part of the sports roster for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
Lalovic expressed confidence that recent reforms will make wrestling more attractive to the IOC.
"We fell into the worst crisis that this sport has known in 3000 years," said Lalovic. "But in just six months we have succeeded in implementing the reforms that we were advised to do by the IOC.”
"There are new rules, an independent refereeing commission and there will be six women`s categories at the Rio Games in 2016.”
In a decision announced earlier this month, FILA announced there will be six weight classes each for women's freestyle, men's freestyle, and men's Greco-Roman Olympic competition, a net gain of two weight classes for women, and a loss of one weight class for each of the men's disciplines.
"We dug deep and found the resources necessary to implement these reforms, which was not easy but we succeeded in doing as much as possible in six months.”
At the Rio press conference, Lalovic cited additional reforms already in place to make wrestling more fan-friendly.
"The rules were not very understandable and there didn`t appear to be any structure to the sport," said the new FILA president. "Now the rules are very understandable and very good for TV. Everyone can now understand what happens in two minutes.”
Lalovic promises even more adjustments to make wrestling more visually appealing, including possible changes to wrestler uniforms, to the architecture of the wrestling arena to make it look better to TV viewers.
Recent changes made to freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling have earned favorable reviews from at the current IOC president Jacques Rogge, and at least two of the six candidates seeking to replace him in an election at the same Buenos Aires meeting that determines wrestling’s Olympic future.
In early June, Denis Oswald said that he’s “pretty convinced” that wrestling will return to the Olympics… while, earlier this month, IOC vice-president Thomas Bach – considered to be the front-runner in the presidential race – said, “I personally believe that wrestling has good chances to come through the vote in September."
Lalovic to head up FILA presentation team to IOC
FILA president Nenad Lalovic will lead the presentation team making its pitch to the IOC to keep wrestling as an Olympic sport, the international wrestling federation announced Thursday.
Joining Lalovic will be four past Olympic wrestlers: Jim Scherr of the United States (who also wrestled for the University of Nebraska), Carol Huynh of Canada, Daniel Igali of Nigeria and Canada and Lise Legrand of France.
These five Olympians also made the successful presentation to the IOC in St. Petersburg, Russia in May where the Olympic governing body whittled down the list of potential Olympic sports from eight candidates down to three.
What's the situation with wrestling and the Olympics? Click here to see the full roster of stories from College Wrestling Examiner on the IOC decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics.
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