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SBD Global/February 18, 2013/Olympics

FILA President Forced To Resign In Wake Of IOC Dropping Wrestling From 2020 Games

Wrestling's world governing body FILA President Raphaël Martinetti "was forced to resign" on Saturday, less than a week after the IOC recommended that the sport be dropped from the 2020 Summer Games, according to Ganguly & Grohmann of REUTERS. Martinetti, from Switzerland, announced he was stepping down at a FILA Exec Committee meeting in Thailand after "a vote of no confidence" following wrestling's recommended exit from the Games, the first sport since '05 to be dropped from the Olympic program. In a statement, FILA said: "Mr. Martinetti asked for the bureau's trust in leading the campaign to save wrestling in the coming months, but the bureau only supported him by 50 percent of the votes. Mr. Martinetti did not use his casting vote to save his position and announced his resignation in order to give the chance to another President to act upon the situation." Serbian Nenad Lalovic was chosen as acting president. FILA VP Tomiaki Fukuda told reporters that the governing body "would continue to review wrestling's plight" during the annual gathering being held in Phuket. Fukuda said, "We will discuss in what ways we can bring wrestling back, but if nothing is decided today, we'll continue our discussions tomorrow" (REUTERS, 2/16).

POOR POLICIES: RUSSIA TODAY reported FILA’s members "believe that poor policies" by Martinetti lead to the IOC recommending the exclusion of all wrestling disciplines from the Olympic program. Low TV ratings were "named as the main reason for the move." However, the real explanation was "FILA’s conflict with the IOC" (RT, 2/16). FILA bureau member Nenad Lalovic said, "This is the result of the active situation and the big problem that we have at FILA with IOC. The problem we face with the participation of wrestling on the Olympics Games in 2020. This was the result of his decision. It was also voted but let’s say we are very proud of his act and generally everything he has done for us" (CCTV, 2/17).

ANCIENT SPORT: In London, John Goodbody wrote, "to drop wrestling is to desecrate the competition's history." Wrestling was "a key part of the ancient Olympics from 704 BC, so central that it formed part of the original pentathlon, together with athletics events." It was also a "sport in its own right and its importance in the ancient world is shown by references in the Iliad and the Odyssey." In countries such as Russia, Japan, Turkey and Afghanistan, wrestling "is a significant sport." It is "simple, requires little equipment, is cheap and demands a high level of physical and technical ability." The sport also has "a wide spread of medals." Twenty-nine countries won medals at the London Games. With "so many sports trying to get into the Games, I have never been able to understand why the IOC has not made one simple change to its charter." It should "delete the criteria that the winter Games must consist solely of sports on snow and ice and instead transfer some of the sports now included in the summer Olympics, or those seeking admission to the programme, to the winter Games." Activities such as weightlifting, table tennis, taekwondo, judo, fencing and wrestling take place indoors and "are really winter sports" (SUNDAY TIMES, 2/17).
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