Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov has urged the country’s Olympic wrestling medalists not to return their medals to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in protest against the decision to remove the discipline from the list of core sports at the Games.
Earlier this month, Bulgarian Wrestling Federation President Valentin Yordanov sent back the gold medal he won at Atlanta in 1996 to IOC President Jacques Rogge following the Executive Board’s decision to remove the sport from the list of core sports at the 2020 Olympics.
Russia’s Sagid Murtazaliev, who won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, has also returned his medal to the IOC.
Other Olympic wrestling medalists are said to be planning to follow the lead of Yordanov and Murtazaliev, with Russia, the world’s strongest wrestling nation, particularly angered by the decision.
Russia topped the wrestling medal table at the London 2012 Olympics with 11 medals, four of which were gold coming from Roman Vlasov and Alan Khugayev in the men’s Greco-Roman, Dzhamal Otarsultanov in the men’s freestyle and Natalia Vorobieva in the women’s freestyle.
But, Zhukov says despite the disappointment with the decision, wrestlers should not give away their Olympic medals in protest.
“We now need to make efforts to persuade the IOC to keep wrestling,” he said. “But, the honestly-won Olympic medals must remain with their owners.”
Wrestling will now join the seven sports bidding to be included on the Olympic program, which are baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
All will give vital presentations to the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg at the end of May.
The final decision on which should be included as a core sport for 2020 will be taken by the full IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that oversaw the recent Summer Olympics. Its writers continue to report on issues affecting the Olympic movement. This article is reprinted here with permission from the editors.