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Putin calls wrestling’s removal from Games “unjustified”

Mar 14, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Visits Japan Getty Images

We’re admittedly surprised it took so long for Russian President and wrestling fan Vladimir Putin to come out against the sport being expelled from the 2020 Olympics by the IOC, but here goes:

“The removal from the Olympic program of traditional forms of sports, which were its basis from the beginning, and were in the program of the Olympic Games even in the time of ancient Greece… is unjustified,” he told news agencies.

Wrestling is one of Russia’s most historically successful sports, so Putin added that he hopes Russia will speak with the IOC, and will do whatever it can to help reinstate the sport’s Olympic status, including cooperating with American and Iranian wrestling committees.

Wrestling’s governing body, FILA, will vote in a new president and make rules changes in Moscow on May 18, just before the IOC votes on May 29 in St. Petersburg to determine which of the eight prospective sports will vy for the single spot available on the 2020 Olympics schedule.