Wrestling-An ancient sport struggles to stay relevant

Men’s Freestyle Wrestling 97kg World Championships Final – AccorHotels Arena, Paris, France – August 26, 2017 – Kyle Frederick Snyder of the United States competes with Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia. REUTERS / RĂ©gis Duvignau / Photo File

ANKARA, July 2 (Reuters) – Despite being a pioneer in the sport, wrestling struggles to woo fans after nearly losing its place at the Olympics in 2013, when the International Olympic Committee voted to withdraw from the program of the Games, starting in 2020.

The decision has taken its toll. The chairman of the sport’s governing body, FILA (now United World Wrestling), has resigned after a motion of no confidence. Two decorated wrestlers returned their medals, while another even went on a hunger strike.

One of the reasons for the elimination is believed to be the lack of star athletes in the sport, although it is very popular in some countries such as host country Iran, the United States and Japan.

The IOC had cited low ticket sales, low popularity, low TV ratings and a lack of oversight and diversity, as women’s competitions were not added until 2004.

In 2013, the IOC also noted that the international wrestling federation had no athlete in its decision-making bodies, no women’s commission, no rules of ethics for technical officials and no medical officer in its executive council.

Following leadership changes and program revisions for 2016, including rule changes and additional women’s competitions, wrestling successfully campaigned to be readmitted to the Olympics.

Despite everything, his future remains uncertain after the next Games in 2024.

Derived from rock drawings dating back over 15,000 years, wrestling is considered one of the oldest sports, practiced since the dawn of civilization.

Greco-Roman wrestling was the first style of wrestling included in the Games, with freestyle added in 1904.

Wrestlers engage in intense battles full of powerful and fast movements. The Russian Federation (formerly USSR) won the most medals, followed by top nations like the United States, Japan, Cuba, Georgia, Iran and Turkey.

Written by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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