New Delhi: Raphael Martinetti, the president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles or Fila, was left stunned after the IOC decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics.
“It’s a stupid decision, far removed from the reality,” was Martinetti’s first reaction when contacted by The Telegraph. “The IOC executive committee members, who took the decision have no idea about the popularity of the game across the world,” said the Swiss businessman, who became Fila chief in 2002.
“I can very well understand the sentiments of Indian people, especially the wrestling community,” Fila boss said from Lausanne. “India was doing very well in the last few years and was winning medals in all major international meets, including Olympics. It’s surely a big blow.”
Martinetti, however, pointed out that India is not the only nation who would be disappointed by the IOC decision. “Wrestling is a popular sport, played in 180 countries. They all would feel like India.”
Surprisingly, if Martinetti is to be believed, Fila had no prior information about the sudden ouster from the Olympic family. “I was here in my office when the news reached me. I was shocked… The IOC never bothered to consult me before taking the decision.
“The IOC has reached a poor conclusion. Even during London Olympics, people paid $500 outside the arena to get tickets for the wrestling events. It is one of the oldest sports in Olympic history,” rued the president.
All, however, is not lost, feels Martinetti. “Tell your people in India not to lose hearts. We are going to make a strong protest against this exclusion when they (IOC) take a final call on the subject in Saint Petersburg and Buenos Aires later this year.”
Martinetti dismissed any idea that the exclusion was the result of voting politics in the IOC. “That’s not correct. We had no problem with each other. Fila was making important technical contributions to Olympics.”
Martinetti said he is soon going to write to IOC. “I will also request all former and present wrestlers to appeal to IOC not to take such a harsh decision.”