Sambo, the martial art developed for Russia’s military and police force in the 1930s, is set to be added to next year’s inaugural European Games in Baku following a personal plea from Vladimir Putin for it to be included.
It will mark a significant step in the drive by the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) for recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and, one day, a place in the Olympics.
Putin, a former sambo champion in St Petersburg and a Master of Sports, is Honorary President of FIAS and has long campaigned for its inclusion in major events.
Last year sambo was part of the Summer Universiade in Kazan, an event Putin opened.
It is believed Putin personally asked Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev whether the sport could be included during a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which both attended in Shanghai earlier this month.
Discussions have since taken place between Baku 2015 and the sport will now appear on the programme, probably as an exhibition event, insidethegames understands from sources in Russia.
“It is indeed the case that the EOC (European Olympic Committees) and BEGOC [Baku 2015] have been looking at including sambo in the inaugural European Games,” Patrick Hickey, President of the EOC, told insidethegames.
“It will be BEGOC’s responsibility to make any announcements in due course.
“The EOC has always had a clear long-term strategic vision for the European Games in terms of size and affordability and great care has been taken in choosing sports to feature at Baku 2015.
“Our original target was for 15 sports to feature but due to exceptionally high levels of interest coming from both European and International Federations this number has increased, significantly strengthening the European Games brand.”
Simon Clegg, chief operating officer of Baku 2015, confirmed they had been in discussions with sambo.
“BEGOC received applications from in excess of 15 International or European Federations seeking demonstration or exhibition status alongside the official sports programme for the Baku 2015 European Games,” he told insidethegames.
“I can confirm that sambo is one of these sports and is presently under consideration.
“We will make a further announcement in due course.”
Last month FIAS President Vasily Shestakov had told insidethegames he believed his sport was the “most technical arsenal of all the martial arts and if you look over the five continents then you will see how popular sambo has become all over the world”.
Sambo, which translates as “self-defence without weapons”, is also due to make its debut at this year’s Asian Beach Games in Phuket, which is scheduled to take place between November 14 and 23.
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.