June 1, 2013 9:55 pm /News /1 Comment

From various online sources via AAP

IOC President Jacques Rogge on Friday defended the process that led to the removal of wrestling from the Olympic program and the sport’s quick return as a candidate for inclusion in the 2020 Games.

“I don’t see any shortcoming in the system,” Rogge said.

“I don’t see an error in the system.”

Wrestling was eliminated from the list of core sports by the IOC in February but, after revamping its structure and adopting new rules, was selected on Wednesday as a possible additional sport on the 2020 program.

Wrestling made a shortlist along with baseball-softball and squash for a single opening in 2020. The IOC will vote in September on which sport to include. If wrestling wins, it means no new sport will be brought in as originally planned.

“You don’t go for a new one for the sake of a new one,” Rogge said.

“Novelty is not the issue, quality is the issue. … The purpose is to have the best possible Olympic program.”

February’s surprising decision to eliminate wrestling – a sport dating back to the ancient Olympics in Greece – caused an international uproar and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces to save the sport.

Nenad Lalovic replaced Raphael Martinetti as FILA president and the federation brought women and athletes into decision-making roles and enacted rule changes to make the competition more fan-friendly.

“Wrestling responded well,” Rogge said.

IOC vice president Thomas Bach of Germany said the makeup of the sports program will need to be reviewed in the future, but wrestling did what it had to do to get back in contention.

“You could clearly see they got the message,” Bach said.

“They changed their sport within three months. Sometimes for brave reforms, you need pressure.”

Wrestling, baseball-softball and squash were selected as finalists after five other applicant sports were eliminated – karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu.

“If there is a consideration that one of the eight applicant sports is better than the other ones, then it should be chosen even if it is an existing sport,” Rogge said. “We do not go for change for the sake of change.”

Rogge said the three sports will now have to work hard to convince the 100-plus IOC members to vote for them on September 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“You have much more than a slide and a video,” he said.

“You have a spirit that makes the sport special. If they speak the language of sport, they will be persuasive.”

 

On other issues, Rogge said the six candidates in the race to succeed him as president in September will present their manifestos directly to IOC members in July, and he dropped his proposal for the next president to be paid after the contenders said they did not want to receive a salary.

Rogge is already looking ahead to his final day in office.

“I am definitely in the last stretch,” he said.

“I see the finish line and I see the ribbon, and on the ribbon it is written 10th of September, 2013. I hope to cross it in good shape, leaving a strong, well-organised IOC to my successor and having fulfilled my duty.”

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One thought on “Rogge defends Wrestling “U-turn”

  1. SteveCubs
    June 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    If they do decide to keep wrestling in, effectively binning the whole process of having seven shortlisted sports go through a lengthy, complicated and expensive bidding process for nothing, then it will be a poor show indeed.

    If they genuinely want something new and different, then squash is the only choice … Vote4Squash !!!

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