Wrestling, axed from the 2020 Olympic program by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in February, has a good chance of coming back after making sweeping changes, IOC vice president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.
Wrestling, squash and a joint bid by baseball and softball have been picked as the three candidate sports, one of which will fill the spot for the 2020 Olympics left vacant by wrestling in an IOC vote in September.
“I have the impression that the international federation [FILA] has understood very well the messages sent to them,” Bach, who is a frontrunner in the IOC presidential race, told the Foreign Press Association in Berlin. “The international federation has drawn its conclusions. It is now here with a new president, new program and new ideas for the sport. That is why I personally believe that wrestling has good chances to come through the vote in September.”
FILA launched a frantic race to make the candidate sports shortlist in May after it was stunned in February, when the IOC took the sport, practiced as far back as the ancient Olympics, off the Games program for the first time since 1900.
It changed its leadership and passed a string of new rules to make the sport more exciting and fair, while also introducing sweeping changes in the federation’s structure and operation.
The IOC will elect the winning sport at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 8.
Bach is preparing for an election of his own two days later, running against five other IOC members for the top Olympic job.
However, being the favorite to succeed outgoing president Jacques Rogge is no guarantee of success in the election as Bach looks to become the first Games gold medalist to lead the world’s biggest multi-sports organization.
Also running are Taiwan’s International Boxing Association president Wu Ching-kuo, IOC vice president Ng Ser Miang from Singapore, Swiss Denis Oswald, Ukraine’s former Olympic pole vault champion Sergei Bubka and Richard Carrion, head of the IOC finance commission and, along with Bach, a chief IOC negotiator for broadcast rights.