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United States' Jordan Ernest Burroughs, in red, and Puerto Rico's Francisco Daniel Soler Tanco, in blue, compete during a 74-kg men's freestyle wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Paul Sancya, Associated Press - Ap

As uproar goes on, wrestling still has shot at '20 Olympics

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILSON
  • Associated Press
  • February 13, 2013 - 11:00 PM

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - Facing widespread criticism, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, will meet with the head of wrestling's governing body to discuss ways the sport can save its spot in the Olympics.

On Tuesday, the IOC executive board dropped wrestling from the 2020 Games, a decision that brought a sharp backlash from wrestling organizations and national Olympic bodies around the world, including the United States, Russia and Iran.

Wrestling's elimination must still be ratified by the full IOC in September, giving wrestling time to try to overturn a decision against a sport that dates to the ancient Olympics and has been featured since the inaugural modern games in 1896.

Rogge said Wednesday he has been contacted by Raphael Martinetti, the Swiss president of international wrestling federation FILA, and was encouraged by the sport's resolve to make changes.

"We agreed we would meet at the first opportunity to have discussions," Rogge said. "They vowed to adapt the sport and vowed to fight to be eventually included in the 2020 slot."

Wrestling remains on the program for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"The door is not closed," IOC Vice President Thomas Bach of Germany said. "It's good to see the reaction of FILA to say, 'OK we have understood, we have to do something and we will present a plan for the future of wrestling.' That is the right attitude."

Wrestling now joins seven other sports vying for one opening on the 2020 program: a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the martial art of wushu.

It shouldn't be, supporters insist. In Tehran, Iranian wrestler Ali Reza Dabir, a gold medalist in 2000 Sydney Games, called wrestling "the identity" of the Olympics.

"Do we destroy our historical sites which are symbols of humanity?" he told the AP. "No. Then, why should we destroy wrestling?"

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