Cuba Opposes Axing Olympic Wrestling

Cuban gold medalist in Grego Roman Wrestling, Mijain Lopez.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Wrestling Federation today added its voice to the outcry of world protests against the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) proposal to exclude wrestling from the 2020 games, reported DPA news.

“We’re against it. It’s something incredible that affects an ancient sport, one of the founding competitions of the Olympic Games,” said Cuban wrestling federation head Eduardo Perez Tellez in a statement released by the sports website JIT.

A regional Olympic powerhouse, Cuba has a great wrestling tradition. The small Caribbean island won 19 wrestling medals in the history of the games, the last two in London in 2012 (a gold in Greco-Roman wrestling and a bronze in free style).

On Tuesday, the IOC in Lausanne proposed eliminating wrestling from the Olympic program starting in 2020 based on an analysis of its attractiveness for the youth market, ticket sales and the number of participants.

Over the last several hours, leaders and athletes from around the world have reacted with attacks, confusion and anger. For his part, IOC president Jacques Rogge responded calmly to the protests.

“We understand the strong reactions. No matter what sport we were to choose, we knew it would generate criticism,” said Rogge today during a press conference in Lausanne.

The International Wrestling Federation (FILA) protested forcefully on Tuesday. FILA will meet this weekend in Thailand in a gathering in which further protests are expected.

“We share the opinion of our international federation that this is a sad situation,” said Cuban official Perez Tellez today.

Prior to the IOC executive board meeting, the modern pentathlon was the leading candidate for removal from the Olympic program.

The decision in Lausanne requires ratification by the General Assembly in Buenos Aires in September, a step considered a pure formality. Wrestling matches, part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1896, would then be held for the last time in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


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