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).
Women's world No. 1 squash player Nicol David has "enlisted squash's highest-profile voice yet" when Roger Federer "urged Olympic officials to add another racket sport" to the Olympics program, according to Rod Gilmour of the London TELEGRAPH. Speaking in Rotterdam, Federer said, "I think it's a wonderful sport. It's unfortunate some sports don't get the opportunity to be in the Olympics. I think squash would deserve it. They run a great tour and they have great players and characters. I'd personally be very happy for them" (TELEGRAPH, 2/16). David said "It’s tremendous to have Roger Federer supporting our campaign. It’s a dream come true for squash. He’s giving his own time to support the bid. Him making this effort is such a bonus for the squash big picture. This could have a real impact" (AFP, 2/17).
The IOC will hold a conference on the role of the World Anti-Doping Agency "amid increasing tensions over how to deal with performance-enhancing drugs," according to the AP. IOC Dir General Christophe De Kepper said that the meeting would be held in Lausanne, Switzerland in late April or early May with int'l sports federations, national Olympic committees and athletes. The decision was made by the IOC exec board this week in Lausanne, "but was not publicly announced." The board acted after a formal request was made to IOC President Jacques Rogge by the head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Francesco Ricci Bitti. The organization represents the 26 sports in the Games. The move comes amid strained relations between the IOC and WADA, an organization which it created in '99 to "lead the global anti-doping fight." The IOC and Olympic movement provide half of WADA's annual budget (AP, 2/17).
The 2014 Sochi Games are less than one year away and the venues, though “dazzling and purpose-built, have strikingly modest capacities,” according to Alexander Wolff in an Olympic-venue profile piece for Sports Illustrated. At the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the main hockey arena, there are “only 12,000 seats.” Capacities at the Sochi venues are so small "that organizers are weighing the pleas of international federations to expand them.” It is “almost as if the goal were to build a studio set for international TV.” The latest estimate for the cost of the Sochi Games is $50B, up from $12B. That would make these games “the most expensive Olympics in history, inflated not only because of the need to fill that blank canvas but also because of wide-spread corruption.” Russia President Vladimir Putin has “leaned on Russia’s oligarchs to bankroll much of Sochi’s new infrastructure, and executives at state-owned companies such as the oil giant OAO Rosneft and the country’s largest bank, Sberbank, have helped Sochi collect more domestic sponsorship revenue than any previous Olympics, winter or summer.” Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich is “building hotels and infrastructure around” the area. Meanwhile, Sochi organizers three years ago “began stocking away in vast crypts some 195,000 cubic yards of snow, chemically treated so it loses only a fraction of its volume.” If that reserve fails, more than “400 snow guns, capable of producing at temperatures up to 50°, line the Olympic Alpine courses.” The snow guns reportedly cost $42,000 and look “like a jet engine” (SI, 2/18 issue).
Russian Paralympic Committee head Pavel Rozhkov said that next year's host city of Sochi is "rapidly improving access for disabled people." Russian cities often have poor infrastructure, and Rozhkov said that this "had been a problem in Sochi and at many Russian airports before recent upgrades." Rozhkov: "We're checking all the infrastructure - cafes, cinemas and that sort of thing" (R-SPORT, 2/13). ... The Swiss state of Graubünden, which will bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, has already received more than 1,000 volunteer applications nine years ahead of the Games. The number tops expectations of Olympic bid organizers. For the execution of the 2022 Winter Games, organizers will need more than 20,000 volunteers (Graubünden 2022).