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Nigeria and Greece join fight to save wrestling

Apr 4, 2013, 11:25 AM EDT

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Along with the US, China, Russia, Iran, and Japan, Nigeria and Greece have now joined the fight in hopes of urging IOC to retain Olympic Wrestling.

“Wrestling is a foundation sport in the Olympics and for us in Africa it is a traditional sport,” Patrick Ekeji of the Nigerian sports commission wrote to the IOC. “The fact that there were not enough sponsorship for the sport was not a good enough reason to eliminate it from the Olympics.”

Daniel Igali, technical director of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation who won gold for Canada in 2000, told Brila FM that members of FILA will attempt to table the discussion at the May 29 meeting in St. Petersburg. They plan to make a full presentation before the September 7 vote in Buenos Aires, which will determine which of the eight candidate sports will earn spot in the 2020 Olympics.

In Greece, which hosted wrestling at the first modern Olympics in 1896, the national Amateur Athletic Association referred to the IOC’s decision as “sacrilege” Tuesday, and said it fully supports a petition circulated by the Hellenic Wrestling Federation to get the sport back in the Games.

Nigeria has never won an Olympic medal in wrestling, and Greece hasn’t taken one home since 1928, which means that it’s not just the competitive nations who are upset by February’s decision.