Wrestling champ Sushil Kumar hails return of sport to Olympic fold

New Delhi: Champion wrestler Sushil Kumar has welcomed the return of the sport to the Olympic fold, saying that the efforts of a cross-section of people from all walks of life had contributed to this achievement.

Wrestling has been included in the 2020 Olympic Games after beating bids from rivals squash and baseball or softball in an International Olympic Committee vote.

Kumar said: "The people of the country, politicians, sports minister made all possible efforts and put forward such a good recommendation to International Olympic Committee (IOC) and I feel that because of this only wrestling has made a comeback. I would just like to tell all the wrestlers to put in their best and play for the nation."

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.

Indian wrestling coach Satpal Singh said: "We would like to congratulate the entire nation and media and because of them wrestling has been included in Olympics 2020. I would also like to congratulate to those who have extended their support. I would also assure you that we would try to improve and give our best in the Olympics."

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

The IOC had said at the time, wrestling had failed to modernise, becoming complacent over decades amid waning interest. 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.

The IOC have emerged from this process with a black eye after setting out to refresh the programme only to bring back a sport that was already in the Games.

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.