Wrestling, among other sports, making case for Olympic inclusion
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- Wrestling and seven others sports were making their case to be included in the 2020 Olympics on Wednesday.
Three months after being dropped from the 2020 program, wrestling had a chance to take a big step toward keeping its Olympic status.
Wrestling body FILA and seven other federations competing for a single opening on the program made closed-door presentations to the IOC executive board.
Also in contention were a combined baseball-softball bid, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu.
The board was set to decide which sport or shortlist of sports to submit to the full IOC assembly for a final decision on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The board looked likely to select three or four finalists. Wrestling, squash and karate have been cited as strong contenders. Men's baseball and women's softball, which have been off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games, have merged into a single federation to improve their chances.
Wrestling, with a tradition dating to the ancient Olympics, was surprisingly cut from the list of core sports by the IOC board in February. The decision caused an international outcry and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in a bid to bring the sport back.
Since then, FILA has changed leadership and approved a series of rule changes to address the IOC's concerns and give the sport a chance to win back its place.
"I'm confident," new FILA President Nenad Lalovic said ahead of the presentation to the IOC. "We did everything we could."
The addition of wrestling to the mix has not gone over well with all the sports. If wrestling is reinstated in September, that will defeat the IOC's original goal of bringing in a new sport in 2020.
Wrestling, which has freestyle and Greco-Roman events, has gone through a major upheaval since February's rejection by the IOC. Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president and was replaced by Lalovic, women and athletes were brought into decision-making roles and changes were enacted to make the sport more compelling.
Among the changes, matches will consist of two three-minute sessions instead of three two-minute periods, and scoring will be cumulative instead of the previous best-of-three system.
The IOC decision is being watched closely by the three cities bidding to host the 2020 Games - Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. Bid leaders from the three candidates are in St. Petersburg to make presentations on Thursday at the SportAccord Convention. Wrestling is particularly popular in Turkey and Japan.