Indian Olympic Association hails return of wrestling to Olympic fold

New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Monday welcomed the return of wrestling in the 2020 Olympic Games, after the sport beat off bids from rivals squash, baseball and softball in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote.

Wrestling completed an unprecedented comeback on Sunday, reclaiming its spot in the 2020 Olympic games.

An iconic Olympic sport, wrestling has featured in the ancient Olympics and in every modern Games apart from the one that was held in 1900.

Commenting on wrestling losing its place earlier, IOA president V K Malhotra said it was more of a conspiracy by some countries.

"Some or the other countries tried to throw it (wrestling) out. There was a conspiracy that could not have been possible. And, a majority of the people voted for wrestling. So,we are very happy and we hope that wrestling in India will get a new life and energy," Malhotra said.

It is the first sport to earn back its Olympic place immediately, with all other returning events taking years or decades to make a comeback.

As the latest Games entrant, wrestling is the only sport to be guaranteed a spot until the 2024 Olympics, with the 27 others up for review in 2017.

Sunday``s result marks a sensational turnaround for the sport which overhauled its rules, administration, gender equality policy and operations following its shock exclusion.

IOA Vice President Tarlochan Singh said: "Now, this will increase the interest among the youth in India because wrestling is a common game and very popular in Indian villages."

The IOC will elect a new president on September 10 to succeed Jacques Rogge, who is stepping down after 12 years.

All six presidential candidates have said the Games should not necessarily have a cap of 28 sports and more could be added by reducing disciplines.

Wrestling, which had received glowing support from IOC members, who were stunned by the Executive Board``s decision, won an outright majority of votes in the first round.

The sport got 49 of 95 votes, with baseball/softball earning 24 and squash landing 22 votes from the IOC members.

The result was crushing news for both of the other sports that have been trying to win a spot in the Games for as much as a decade.

Baseball and softball, Olympic sports until the 2008 Beijing Games, hoped for a return to the Olympic fold.

Squash, the only one of the three never to have featured in the Olympics, was making its third consecutive bid after failures in 2005 and 2009.


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