Denis Oswald, one of six candidates vying for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee, said that he’s “pretty convinced” that wrestling will return to the Olympics, according to comments made during a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland Monday.
Oswald, 66, president of the international rowing federation (and bronze medalist for Switzerland in rowing at the 1968 Olympics) who had been a voting member of the IOC Executive Board until 2012, also distanced himself from the IOC decision in February to remove wrestling as a core Olympic sport, effective for the 2020 Games, saying the decision was “not well handled.”
“I am no longer on the Executive Board…but I must say I was very surprised that wrestling was eliminated,” Oswald told reporters on a telephone conference call from his native Switzerland.
Wrestling is a sport that can trace its roots back to the ancient Olympics. It was also one of the original sports of the Modern Olympics in 1896.
“The (wrestling) federation maybe did not make the effort but I think there were other ways to warn them because wrestling is a basic sport (of the Games) and I am convinced they will come back,” Oswald added.
“We should consider that (the Olympic program) with a more creative approach. We could have solved the problems if we had this more creative approach.”
Oswald’s comments are in contrast to those of current IOC president Jacques Rogge, who, late last week, said that his organization had not made a mistake in its decision to take wrestling out of the Olympics in February, only to seemingly reverse course with last week’s vote to shortlist the sport.
“I don’t see any shortcomings in the system, I don’t see any errors in the system,” Rogge said at the end of a three-day meeting of the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg, Russia last Friday.
Rogge is leaving his seat as IOC president in September, at the same meeting where the IOC will make its decision as to wrestling’s future at the Olympics.
Oswald’s “creative approach” also extends to new thinking about the IOC cap of 28 sports, a hallmark of Rogge’s 12 years at the helm of the Olympic organization.
For example, Oswald sees the possibility of new sports joining the Olympic roster in the future if existing sports that were not “universally popular” reduced events or the number of participating athletes.
“What I propose is not to limit strictly at 28 sports but reduce the representation of some sports’ disciplines. Even in major sports there are some disciplines that are not universal,” Oswald said, without naming specific sports.
Want to know more? Check out reports on Denis Oswald’s press conference from Reuters and Associated Press.
What’s the situation with wrestling and the Olympics? Click here to see the full roster of stories from College Wrestling Examiner on the IOC decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics.
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