LAUSANNE, Switzerland —
“It just seems like wrestling — if we don’t fight, we’re going to die,” he said. “At this point, it’s time for everybody to man up and support the program.”
The decision hit hard in Russia, which has long been a power in the sport.
Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, suggested FILA had not done enough to keep the sport in the games.
“We want to hear what was done to prevent this issue from even being discussed at the board,” he said on the Rossiya TV channel.
In comments carried by ITAR-Tass, Mamiashvili added: “I can say for sure that the roots of this problem is at the FILA. I believe that Martinetti’s task was to work hard, socialize and defend wrestling’s place before the IOC.”
Alexander Leipold, a 2000 Olympic champion from Germany and former freestyle German team coach, said he was shocked.
“We are a technical, tactical martial sport where the aim is not to harm the opponent,” he said. “Competing at the Olympics is the greatest for an athlete.”
Wrestling’s long history in the Olympics has featured some top names and moments:
— Karelin won the super-heavyweight gold in Greco-Roman over three straight Olympics — 1988, 1992 and 1996 — until his streak was ended by Gardner, who beat him for the gold in 2000.
— Baumgartner won four Olympic medals, including golds in 1984 and 1992.
— Blatnick overcame cancer to win gold in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, bursting into tears after the match. Blatnick died last year at age 55.
— Burroughs emerged as the star of the sport in London, where he won the 74-kilogram gold.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio.