We`re ready for a long haul for Olympic inclusion: FILA chief

Updated: Apr 20, 2013, 19:31 PM IST

New Delhi: With little over a month to go for the crucial IOC meeting that will decide the fate of wrestling in Olympics, the international wrestling body chief Nenad Lalovic said his federation was prepared for a long battle even if the sport fails to re-enter the Games on Saturday.

"If we go to St Petersburg (Russia) to be in the short list to be elected as an additional sport for the 2020 Games, it may happen that we don`t succeed. We will start our fight again on the 8th of September. We will give every second of our life to reintegrate the game in the Olympics. We will succeed, may be not this summer, but soon," Lalovic told PTI here on Saturday.

"But if we succeed, we again start our struggle on September 8 because we want to become core sport. We are the gods of arena and will never give up," the 54-year-old Serbian, who is here for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships, said.

In the May 29 IOC meeting, wrestling would be competing with seven other sports to get recommended for possible inclusion at the 2020 Olympics. The final decision will be taken in September in Buenos Aires where the full IOC will vote to select one sport out of recommended three.

"I made a tour of the planet but what is important for us is to show to the decision makers of the IOC that we can change quickly in a good way in a way and according to their requirement," he said.

Lalovic, interim FILA president, said the movement to reinstate wrestling in the Olympic programme would require India`s help as well.

"You are a big country, you have to help us with good organisation of competitions like this (Asian Championships). I think all the countries are together for the first time and we have to lead the simultaneous action. We have to understand that only partner is the IOC and our problems can be solved only by working together with them," he said.

FILA, who will be celebrating the month of May as `World Wrestling Month`, is also planning to organise simultaneous events in many countries to document glorious past of the sport.

"On May 15 there will be a match between United States and Iran at the iconic Times Square in New York. Same day, Russian wrestlers will be competing against USA which will be followed by Iran versus US in Los Angeles two days later. We will leave no stone unturned to showcase the popularity of the sport," said Lalovic who will be contesting for the president`s post of the world body.

Lalovic rejected the suggestion of returning the Olympic medals as the form of protest, saying the move will be counterproductive.

"I can understand the emotions of the wrestlers but returning medals is a very bad sign. We did everything to stop this because that doesn`t help anybody. It doesn`t influence IOC nor does it help us. It is counterproductive," he said.

Lalovic said his body was working overtime to modernize the game and make it more viewer-friendly in order to convince IOC.
"It is the sport that is in human gene. We are talking with the IOC on how to remodel the competition for Olympics. We have proposed six categories each for women, freestyle and Greco Roman. We have proposed many different formats of the competition during the games of six to nine days," he said.

Asked if FILA would be interested in awarding India any international competitions, Lalovic said, "It`s not about giving but it`s about taking. We don`t have preference for anybody but we have to respect those who win the most. This is the main criteria."

"I`ll be happy if India has an Olympic champion in Rio because you are one-fifth of the world population. For your country wrestling is the sport that can be developed fast and the cheapest," he said.