As the support for wrestling’s stay in the Olympics becomes stronger, the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) Athletes Commission has urged the wrestlers not to surrender their Olympic medals.
In an appeal to the Olympic medallists, FILA Athletes Commission members — including its chairman Stan Dziedzic and co-chairmen Daulet Turlykhanov and Alexander Karelin — have requested the wrestlers to “redirect their passions” and refrain from returning their medals.
“Returning your gold medal is counterproductive. Before the practice escalates, we urge you to keep your Olympic medals and celebrate your achievement.
“The gold medals you have so justly earned should be one of your proudest accomplishments. It is a dream that we hope other wrestlers from around the world will continue to have,” said the message.
At least three wrestlers, 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medal winning grappler Sagid Murtazaliev from Russia, 1980 silver medallist Andrzej Supron from Poland and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, have expressed their desire to return their medals as a mark of protest of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Committee decision to take wrestling off the 2020 Games.
The FILA Athletes Commission said, “Wrestling is among the most diverse Olympic sports. Wrestlers from 29 countries won medals in London.
“We cannot afford to dwell on the past. Rather, we need to press our case about why wrestling deserves a spot in the Olympic programme.”
After his meeting with IOC chief Jaques Rogge in Laussane on Thursday, FILA acting president Nenad Lalovic said the FILA was determined to improve wrestling’s status.
“Our objective was to listen and learn from the discussion with President Rogge…Every sport, including wrestling, has to earn its place on the Olympic programme…Our goal is to make a great sport better and to be stronger partners in the Olympic Family.”
The Executive Council of the Association of National Olympic Committees, which met in Melbourne recently, has passed a resolution favouring wrestling’s stay in the Olympics.