Ministry to fetch support

New Delhi: Stunned by the ouster of wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, the government on Wednesday decided to take up the issue with other concerned nations and urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision.

The government, however, has no immediate plans to slash the budget allotment for the development of the sport.

"Firstly, the sport has every chance of making a comeback in Olympics. Moreover, we strongly believe wrestling would continue to get a prominent place in other multi-sport events like Asian Games and Commonwealth Games," a ministry official said.

Never before has the sports ministry officially reacted on an IOC decision to drop a particular sporting event from the Olympics. " The decision of the IOC executive board came as a shock to all the sports loving people in India," the ministry said.

"Keeping in view the vast popularity and mass participation in wrestling, the ministry of youth affairs and sports, Government of India has decided to discuss the matter with the Wrestling Federation of India and prominent wrestlers of the country."

Pointing out wrestling's popularity in India, the sports ministry said: "The ministry will take up the issue with other nations where wrestling is popular," a release said.

"The ministry is hopeful that with these steps, IOC Executive Board meeting at St. Petersburg in May and IOC session in Buenos Aires will decide to retain wrestling in core Olympic Games," the release from the government further said.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), which wrote a letter to the world body (Fila) on Tuesday, said Fila had already taken up the issue.

"The world body has already written to all member nations asking them not to panic," said a senior WFI official. "Fila has pointed out that ouster of wrestling from the Olympics was not final. It's only a recommendation.

"Our strategy would be to put up a joint fight in the crucial IOC meeting in Buenos Aires later this year," claimed a wrestling federation official.

A Fila meeting is scheduled in Thailand on February 16 and 17.

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