Sushil Kumar slams IOC’s decision, says wrestling is a popular sport

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: A day after the International Olympic Committee dropped wrestling from 2020 Games, ace Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar came in defense of the sport saying the event is extremely popular all over the world and to say that it doesn’t generate TV ratings is wrong.

Speaking exclusively to Zeenews on Wednesday, Sushil Kumar said, “There were no tickets available to watch wrestling at the London Olympics. When we were training in USA, Obama himself came to watch us. So it is wrong to say that wrestling isn’t a popular sport.”

Sushil, who became the first Indian sportsperson to win back-to-back individual Olympic medals, further said that the decision is a major blow for the upcoming wrestlers who had been preparing hard for the 2020 Olympics.

“It will directly affect the wrestlers who were preparing for 2020 Olympics as now they can’t see any target,” he said.

Sushil’s coach Mahabali Satpal joined the debate and said that the upcoming Indian wrestlers were all charged up after a successful 2012 London Olympics and thus the decision will affect them.

“After the London Olympics, Indian wrestlers were brimming with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and now it is hard to believe this decision. During Sushil’s bout there was a curfew kind of situation all over India. So it is wrong to say that it isn’t popular,” he said.

“Indian wrestlers were winning medals in wrestling. We were confident of winning 6-7 medals at Brazil Olympics. Thus it is a major setback for the upcoming wrestlers as Sushil, Yogeshwar had set high standards for them,” he added.

Sushil said that he still cannot believe that the decision to drop wrestling, which has been a part of the Olympics since 1896, will be implemented.

“I don’t think it will be implemented. You can go anywhere in the world and you’ll find people involved in wrestling. I still cannot believe that anything like this can take place,”

The champion wrestler concluded by saying that the concerned officials should create some pressure as the decision will majorly affect India.

“The officials will do that. As I told you Obama himself came which shows how popular a sport it is. It will majorly affect India and thus our officials must pressurize,” Sushil said.

The International Olympic Committee leaders dropped wrestling for the 2020 Games in a surprise decision to scrap one of the oldest sports on the Olympic program.

The IOC executive board decided on Tuesday to retain modern pentathlon -- the event considered most at risk -- and remove wrestling instead from its list of core sports.

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.

With PTI inputs