Wrestling stunned by 2020 exclusion

  • Last Updated: February 12 2013, 15:30 GMT

Wrestling's world governing body FILA has said it is "greatly astonished" by the International Olympic Committee's decision to remove it from the programme for the 2020 Games.

In a statement, the governing body vowed to fight what it called the "aberration" of the announcement, which came following a meeting of the IOC's 15-strong executive board in Lausanne.

Wrestling will now become one of eight sports - along with the likes of squash, karate and baseball/softball - bidding for inclusion in the 2020 Games, with a decision due at the IOC Congress in September.

IOC communications director Mark Adams said: "This is not what's wrong with wrestling, it's what's right about the other 25 core sports.

"This process is about looking to renew the Olympic Games and the executive board made their decision based on their experience.

"They have a collective intelligence there with representatives from many sports, national Olympic committees and international federations and they came to that decision."

News of its exclusion came as a shock to the wrestling community, with modern pentathlon and taekwondo having been considered two sports at greater risk.

A statement on the governing body's website read: "FILA was greatly astonished by today's recommendation of the IOC executive board not to maintain wrestling among the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games.

"FILA will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC executive board and IOC members of the aberration of such [a] decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games."

Great Britain sent only one wrestler, the Ukraine-born Olga Butkevych, to London 2012 after losing all its UK Sport funding due to a lack of realistic medal chances.

Butkevych said today: "I am disappointed to hear the IOC's decision. I would like to do my best for Team GB at 2016 but it is going to be a real challenge."

Leon Rattigan, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, said: "I'm shocked and surprised. Wrestling did very well in London despite Britain not being a wrestling country. I don't understand it."

Great Britain has won two post-War Olympic wrestling medals, the last a bronze for light-heavyweight Noel Loban in Los Angeles in 1984.

British Wrestling chief executive Colin Nicholson said: "It has come as a big surprise. Wrestling proved very popular in London and it has a very wide appeal across the world."

The news will be more keenly felt in traditional wrestling nations, with India's London 2012 silver medallist Sushil Kumar telling Indian media: "I don't see any reason why the IOC has decided to drop wrestling.

"In my view, the IOC would find it difficult to remove it from the list given the sport's huge popularity across the globe. It's an old sport and famous worldwide."

While wrestling was left to mount a campaign for re-election, there was relief for modern pentathlon which had been widely tipped to face expulsion.

GB Modern Pentathlon chief executive Jon Archer said: "This absolutely secures the future of sport, not just at an Olympic level but also in giving us the opportunity to develop and get more people involved.

"Olympic inclusion is absolutely essential to our sport. It is at the centre of everything we do. We can relax now and work to continually modernise the sport and raise awareness."

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