Jordan Burroughs, left, will take on Iranians, Russians and more at the 2013 Freestyle World Cup in Tehran next week. / Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports
The day after the International Olympic Committee cut wrestling from the Summer Olympics beginning with the 2020 Games, IOC president Jacques Rogge said he expected the backlash.
"We knew it would lead to criticism from followers of that particular sport," Rogge said Wednesday. He said he would meet with Raphael Martinetti, the head of the international wrestling federation, known by the French acronym FILA, "at the first opportunity" to discuss the sport's future.
"They vowed to adapt the sport and to fight to be eventually included in 2020," Rogge said.
Wrestling, which was part of the first modern Olympics, has a chance to be included in the 2020 Games, but that is unlikely, according to several people familiar with the IOC's processes and politics. It will now compete against seven other sports vying for an Olympic spot: baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu.
Rogge said the vote is not an "elimination from the Olympic Games" since the decision still must be ratified by the full IOC in September. Though that is expected. Wrestling will still be a part of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Rogge said he would tell young wrestlers devastated by the news that "your federation is working towards the inclusion in the 2020 Games."
When asked about wrestling's chances for readmission, Rogge said, "I cannot look into a crystal ball on what the future will be. But I can tell you we have established a fair process."
Several IOC executive board members who voted have positions in sports administration, raising concerns about conflict of interest. Modern pentathlon was expected to be cut, but a strong lobbying by board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., an executive with the modern pentathlon federation, helped save the sport from elimination.
"The rules of conflict of interest are very clearly applied," Rogge said. He said it's important for members to have a background in sports, adding that knowledge allows members to make decisions that are sound and intelligent.
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