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Volume 6 No. 212
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Wrestling's Olympic Reinstatement Comes As Pleasant News In Russia, India, U.S.

Greece wrestling federation President Kostas Thanos said that "wrestling's reclamation of a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games represented a victory" for the country, according to Graham Wood of REUTERS. Thanos: "This was a victory for Greece because the sport is completely Greek and is part of our history. As we saw, there was an unprecedented response globally and I think those reactions surprised the IOC." Sunday's result "was a sensational turnaround for the sport" under new int'l wrestling federation (FILA) President Nenad Lalovic, who "overhauled its rules, administration, gender equality policy and operations following the shock exclusion." Greek Olympic Committee President Spyros Kapralos said, "We express our great satisfaction for the preservation of wrestling in the Olympic Games program. The decision is sure to be warmly welcomed by all sports people, not only in Greece, but everywhere in the world." There was a "similar sense of relief in India for whom wrestling fetched two of the country's six hard-earned medals from last year's London Olympics" (REUTERS, 9/9).

INDIA PLEASED: The PTI reported acting Indian Olympic Association CEO V. K. Malhotra said, "We were waiting for this news. We are happy that efforts have yielded desired result. It is really good for the wrestlers" (PTI, 9/8).

RUSSIA RELIEVED: R-SPORT reported "there was widespread relief in the Russian sports community" as wrestling "returned to the Olympic program." Russian national wrestling coach Gogi Koguashvili, who is also a five-time world champion, said, "From the first day, when they said wrestling could be excluded from the Olympics, I didn't believe it -- it's one of the fundamental Olympic sports. But yesterday before the vote, I felt uneasy all the same. It's good that these experiments on wrestling have finished and that the truth has prevailed" (R-SPORT, 9/9).

QUESTIONS REMAIN: In London, Owen Gibson reported the U.S., Russia and Iran "all would have been celebrating" as IOC members voted to retain wrestling's Olympic status for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Just as "loud as the cheers from the victors," however, were the "questions from others over a process that has taken two and a half years and cost the campaigning sports a small fortune, only to come full circle." A process that was "supposed to end with a new sport earning Olympic status ended with one of those most readily associated with the ancient Games in Olympia having to scrap for its life." The prospect of wrestling losing its status "had been described as a 'crisis'" by Lalovic. The "ludicrously long-winded process may not yet be over." The new IOC president, "due to be selected from a shortlist of six on Tuesday," is expected to look again at the sports program "and could yet add another sport for 2020" (GUARDIAN, 9/8).

'THE RIGHT DECISION': In Washington, DC, Tracee Hamilton opined the IOC "made the right decision -- and how often do we hear that? -- when it voted Sunday to return wrestling, at least provisionally, to the Olympic program." Losing the int'l platform of the Olympics "would have had a trickle-down effect, at least in this country, to college and high school programs" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/8).