PARIS: The sweeping reforms that have transformed wrestling in the past six months will not stop even if the sport regains its place at the 2020 Olympics, federation president Nenad Lalovic told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.
The 55-year-old Serbian— whose son was an international-level wrestler—has led the reforms in the sport since it was surprisingly dropped from the program for the 2020 Summer Olympics after a vote by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board in February.
However, thanks to the tireless efforts by Lalovic—who was elected president after his predecessor was forced to resign following the fallout from the vote – and his team they are considered favorites to see off squash and a joint softball/baseball bid to be restored to the 2020 sports roster when IOC members vote in Buenos Aires on September 8.
“We fell into the worst crisis that this sport has known in 3000 years,” said the charismatic and affable Serbian.
“But in just six months we have succeeded in implementing the reforms that we were advised to do by the IOC.
“There are new rules, an independent refereeing commission and there will be six women’s categories at the Rio Games in 2016.
“However, whether we win or lose in Buenos Aires the reforms will continue as we have an obligation to the athletes and the sport.”
Lalovic, who will be in Buenos Aires from Sunday to prepare for the final presentation to the IOC members, said that chief among the reforms was to make it a more television-friendly sport.
That will range from the rather skimpy and unattractive kit the wrestlers wear to the arena they perform in.
“The rules were not very understandable and there didn’t appear to be any structure to the sport,” he said.
“Now the rules are very understandable and very good for TV. Everyone can now understand what happens in two minutes.
“For the wrestlers were not spending time just tussling on the mat but were fighting standing up.