Olympic Victory

Sep 10 2013, 09:00 IST
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SummaryWrestling is back in the reckoning for the Olympics thanks to efforts of energetic FILA chief

Japan is basking in the glory of having won the rights to host the 2020 Olympics, and hopes that the $4.4 billion spend will be more than made up by a $30 billion boost to GDP and the creation of 150,000 jobs. Whether the numbers work out remains to be seen; many countries have found holding games is more of a PR event. Another country that has to be celebrating is India which, if the previous Olympics are anything to go by, has just bettered its medal hopes by a third. Two of India’s 6 medals came from wrestling, a sport that almost got knocked out when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to removing wrestling from the list of sports, allegedly on grounds of much lower viewership over a period of time.

That was tragic for a sport that has been part of the Olympics for more than 2,700 years. Part of the sport’s victory, to get back into the Olympics, has to do with its energetic sports body (FILA) chief Nenad Lalovic who took over after the IOC debacle and then travelled around the world to highlight the sport’s changing profile and history. Easier rules have been put in place; three two-minute bouts have been replaced by two three-minute bouts and cumulative scoring has been introduced—the cause of gender equality has been served by bringing in two new weight categories for women. As a result, while wrestling got 49 votes at the IOC, other contenders like softball-baseball got 24 and squash 22—it helped that at the London Olympics, 29 countries won medals in wrestling. Softball-baseball has been part of 5 Olympics and squash never, despite its new rules and attempts to increase the sport’s appeal by using drop boxes at exotic locales including the pyramids. Go India!

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