Smackdown

Dropped from the list of 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympics, there's still a minute chance for wrestling to return to the elite group. However, the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) will have to have to get its house in order first and pull many plugs to be reinstated by the International Olympic Committee.

Wrestling will now have to vie with seven other sports — baseball/softball, squash, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, to be added back into the programme for the 2020 Olympics.

The decision will be taken when the full IOC session meets in September. In the same meeting, the hosts for the 2020 Olympics are likely to be announced. Three cities — Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo — are in contention to host those Games. Unlike wrestling, which has been an integral part of the modern Olympics, modern pentathlon has been under scrutiny for quite some time. However, strong lobbying is said to have saved the sport from being ousted from the Olympics programme, something that was grossly lacking in wrestling which received this bolt from the blue.

Sensing that the sport may be dropped from the future Games, the International Modern Pentathlon Federation (UIPM) had lobbied heavily ahead of Tuesday's meeting while FILA, which has a reputation of being a rather passive organisation, sat back hardly expecting this ouster.

While pentathlon banked on the support of the 'crucial' executive board members, the intervention of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, the son of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and vice president of UIPM, proved crucial. Wrestling did not have similar backing. "The countries that dominate wrestling are from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The US isn't the same power any more. The decision makers in the IOC are from Western Europe, USA and China, Japan and Korea from East Asia," an IOC member said, not willing to be named.

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