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Wrestling supremo pleased after Rogge talks

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AFP) –

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge gestures during a press conference closing an IOC executive meeting on December 5, 2012 in Lausanne. Nenad Lalovic, acting president of the International Federation for Wrestling (FILA) said he had very helpful talks with Rogge on Thursday.

Nenad Lalovic, acting president of the International Federation for Wrestling (FILA) said he had very helpful talks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Thursday.

Lalovic has been spearheading the campaign to have wrestling — one of the few sports to have appeared in both the Ancient and modern Olympics — reinstated into the 2020 Olympics.

Wrestling had been selected to disappear from the Games in 2020, and be replaced by an as yet unidentified sport, by the 15-man IOC Executive Board at their meeting on February 12.

Both decisions — the exclusion of wrestling and the sport to replace it — have to be rubberstamped by the whole membership of the IOC at their Congress in Buenos Aires in early September.

Lalovic, though, said that his talks with Rogge had been productive and educational.

“The meeting was very cordial and helpful,” said Lalovic, who assumed the interim role after Raphael Martinetti resigned on February 16 when he failed to gain enough support from FILA board members for him to head the campaign.

“Our objective was to listen and learn from the discussion with President Rogge and I am very pleased with the result. Every sport, including wrestling, has to earn its place on the Olympic programme.

“We know this will take hard work and are ready for it. Our goal is to make a great sport better and to be stronger partners in the Olympic Family.”

Lalovic outlined the initial steps that FILA is taking to address the concerns expressed by the IOC Executive Board.

“FILA has already begun a number of innovative initiatives to modernize the governance, presentation and promotion of our sport,” said the 54-year-old Serbian.

“The IOC’s process has given wrestling a golden opportunity, for which we are very grateful, to improve our sport at every level and to help strengthen the Olympic Movement.”

The decision to recommend wrestling’s removal provoked a storm of protest with even sworn diplomatic foes Iran and the United States coming together in the fight to have the sport reinstated.

Other protests have included Bulgarian wrestling coach and two-times Olympic champion Armen Nazaryan going on a hunger strike while Russia’s 2000 Olympic freestyle champion Sagid Murtazaliev said he was giving back his gold medal.

He followed the example of Bulgaria’s 1996 Olympic champion Valentin Iordanov, now his country’s wrestling federation’s chief, who handed his medal back following the decision.

The sports bidding to get on the programme are squash, karate, baseball, which has joined forces with softball this time round, roller sports, sport climbing, wake boarding and wushu.

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