The federation for international wrestling will hold an "extraordinary" congress in Moscow later this month to discuss major changes designed to keep the sport in the Olympics.
FILA said Wednesday that it has invited delegates from 177 countries to the May 18 meeting, 11 days before the sport makes its case for inclusion into the 2020 Olympic Games to the IOC's executive council. The IOC recommended in February that wrestling be left off the Olympic program starting in 2020, leaving the sport to compete with seven others for provisional status.
"This will be one of the most important meetings in the history of our sport," FILA acting president Nenad Lalovic said. "This will be the time we make our sport better. We are proud of our past, but we're looking to our future and we will be strong enough to change."
Bill Scherr, the chairman of the U.S.-based Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling, said the wrestling community believes the sport needs to be simpler and easier to understand for fans — especially for TV viewers. That means two of the sport's more highly-discussed rules could be on their way out.
Scherr told The Associated Press he believes the ball pull and clinch rule — which gives a distinct edge to the wrestler lucky enough to draw an offensive position to start overtime — will be cut in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.
"I do feel pretty strongly that that's going to be (eliminated) in both. I don't know. No one knows, but that's my sense that that's the direction people will head. That chance should not determine an Olympic champion," Scherr said.
Scherr also thinks the sport will return to cumulative scoring as opposed to a best-of-three periods system.
FILA also said it will consider allowing increased athlete involvement in organizational matters, putting more women in leadership roles and discuss non-Olympic styles associated with FILA while in Moscow.
Lalovic, who replaced Raphael Martinetti shortly after that IOC's recommendation, will also be up for election as FILA's permanent president. Lalovic is expected to run opposed, and the U.S. contingent will have his back in Moscow.
"We are going to strongly support making permanent the presidency of acting president Lalovic," Scherr said.
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