The Federal Government has joined the rest of the world to protest the recently announced recommendation by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that wrestling be eliminated from the Olympic Games in 2020.
The position of the Federal Government was made known Thursday by the Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Dr. Patrick Ekeji, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, when the petition and protest letter by the Nigeria Wrestling Federation was submitted to Nigeria's IOC representative Mr. Habu Gumel, for onward transmission to the general congress.
Ekeji expressed the FG's dismay at the decision of the executive board of the IOC to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics, stressing that "wrestling is a foundation sport in the Olympics and for us in Africa it is a traditional sport".
He further stated that he strongly believed that the general congress may upturn the unpopular decision noting that wrestling was one of the six Olympic sports celebrated at the first modern Olympic Games.
The Director General lamented that the reason advanced by the executive board to eliminate the well celebrated sport was not strong enough maintaining that the fact that they were no enough sponsorship for the sport was in his view "not a good enough reason to eliminate the sport from the Olympics".
Earlier, President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF), Austin Edeze said that the elimination of the wrestling from Olympic sports 2020 would be a big challenge for the entire wrestling community worldwide and in Nigeria in particular where the federal government selected wrestling as one of the core sports and has put its full energy and resources to develop it.
"Removing wrestling as an Olympic sport shall have devastating effect and major discouragement for both the athletes and all lovers of the sport, especially in Nigeria where we have in excess of 5 million wrestlers," he further added.
On his part, representative of the IOC, Alhaji Gumel pledged to present Nigeria's petition to the IOC general session scheduled for September, in Buenos Aires Argentina.