EVEN the highest sports official in the continent doesn’t agree with the removal of wrestling from the Olympics.
Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah recently pledged support for the retention of the sport in the global summer games when he represents the continent in the International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September.
“Wrestling is a very important sport not only for Asia but for the whole international sporting community,” said Al-Sabah, who left the country during the weekend after formally awarding the hosting of the Asian Games Centennial Festival to the Philippines. “It’s one of the founding sports in the Olympics besides track and field.”
The ancient discipline of wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, was played in the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 and is a medal source for the country in the Southeast Asian Games with Margarito Angana and Jason Balabal winning in the last SEAG in Jakarta.
The decision to remove wrestling from the 25 core sports in the Olympic program was recently announced by the IOC executive board.
One of the oldest sports in the Games, wrestling will apply for inclusion in 2020 along with karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu during the IOC general assembly in Buenos Aires.
“We respect what the IOC (executive board) has decided. But it will all depend on the voting in Buenos Aires,” said Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti royalty who leads the OCA, the continental arm of the IOC with 44 Asian countries under its fold.
He pointed out that in a recent meeting held in Sydney, leaders of the Association of National Olympic Committees (Anoc) from the five continents have professed their support to retain wrestling in the Olympic circle.
“It’s the resolution of the IOC executive board. But there’s still a chance for wrestling to be in the games if the body (general assembly) decides otherwise,” added Al-Sabah.