Head of international wrestling resigns after sport's Olympic omission
Phuket, Thailand • The president of the international wrestling federation quit Saturday in the wake of the IOC's decision to remove the sport from the 2020 Olympics.
Raphael Martinetti's resignation was announced at the FILA executive committee meeting in Phuket. The Swiss had been in the position since 2002.
On Tuesday, the executive board of the IOC dumped wrestling from the list of sports guaranteed a berth in future Summer Olympics, meaning it must compete with other fringe sports for a spot on the program.
FILA member Nenad Lalovic, who has assumed an interim presidency role, confirmed at a news conference that Martinetti's resignation was because of the International Olympic Council's decision.
"It was difficult for a president who wasn't powerful for 11 years when the IOC decided to eliminate his sport from the Olympic Games," said Lalovic, adding the new president will soon be elected at an extraordinary congress.
Lalovic said the bid to restore wrestling to the Olympic program would begin immediately.
"Every one of us will have a duty. We have only one goal that is to be back on the Olympics. Lobbying is very important, but it's not something that you can't determine in advance," Lalovic said. "We have to prepare a serious presentation that must be prepared by professionals to present the real picture of our sport. This sport has been practiced by millions of people. We will use this fact in order to promote our sport."
Now that wrestling is no longer a core Olympic sport, it must compete with seven other contenders baseball and softball, squash, karate, wakeboarding, sport climbing, roller sports and the martial art of wushu in lobbying to earn the last spot on the 28-sport program for the 2020 Olympics, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to choose which sports to propose for inclusion in 2020.