Putin: Don't drop Wrestling!
Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his weight behind wrestling's bid to remain in the Olympic programme after the ancient sport was nominated for exclusion from the 2020 Games.
Putin, who is a judo black belt and known for his love of wrestling and martial arts, said he would look to discuss the issue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"The exclusion of traditional sports, which were primordial in the Olympic programme since the times of ancient Greece, seems to be unjustified," Ria-Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying.
"This question demands a separate discussion, which, I hope, we will be able to hold with our friends in the IOC."
Wrestling had been selected to disappear from the Games in 2020, to be replaced by an as yet unidentified sport, by the 15-member IOC Executive Board at their meeting on February 12.
But the omission of one of the most elementary Olympic sports has caused a wave of protest both from inside and outside wrestling circles.
Earlier this month 1996 Atlanta Games Olympic champion and current Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Iordanov announced his decision to return his gold medal in protest at the decision.
His move was then replicated by Russian freestyle wrestling Synday Olympic champion Sagid Murtazaliev.