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Wrestling to hold extraordinary congress in Moscow

Georgia's George Goghelidze challenges Iran's Arfan Moradali Amiri (red) during their 96kg men's freestyle bronze medal match at the World W
Georgia's George Goghelidze challenges Iran's Arfan Moradali Amiri (red) during their 96kg men's freestyle bronze medal match at the World W

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The world wrestling federation (FILA) will hold an extraordinary congress in May to elect a new president as the ancient sport battles to maintain its place on the Olympic program.

"FILA will hold its extraordinary Congress on May 18 in Moscow to elect a new president and discuss a variety of issues concerning keeping the sport in the Olympic Games," the sport's governing body said on its website (www.fila-official.com).

Last month, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), made a surprise recommendation to drop wrestling from the Olympic program in 2020.

The sport, which featured in the first modern Olympics in 1896 and every Games since apart from 1900, has joined seven other candidates battling for one spot in a revamped program.

The world wrestling community, outraged by the decision, put the blame largely on FILA chief Raphael Martinetti, forcing the Swiss to resign and naming Serbian Nenad Lalovic as acting president.

The Moscow congress will be held days before the IOC executive board meets in St Petersburg to determine which of the eight sports will go forward to the vote at the full IOC session in Buenos Aires in September.

In Moscow, FILA will discuss possible rule changes and new uniforms to make wrestling more attractive to fans and television audiences. The federation has also promised to give athletes a more active role in the decision-making process.

"It's time for us to utilize the passion and knowledge of our athletes, both men and women," Lalovic told the FILA website. "They will help us to be better."

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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