June 26 - The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) has met with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) to discuss issues surrounding the presentation and scheduling of the sport at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The meeting, which took place at OBS headquarters in Madrid, was attended by Yiannis Exarchos, the chief executive of OBS; Kostas Kapatais, senior coordinating producer, OBS; Makoto Nakamura, senior coordinating producer, OBS; and Karl-Martin Dittman, general secretary of the German Wrestling Federation.
Wrestling, which has appered in every Olympics since 1896 - except 1900 - has been recommended for the removal from the list of 25 core sports proposed for the 2020 Summer Games following an announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) back in February.
The IOC's decision to axe the two Olympic wrestling styles of Greco Roman and Freestyle was put down to global participation levels, popularity and a drop in television audience interest.
In response to the IOC's decision, FILA introduced a number of changes to the sport to make it more appealing to television audiences by favouring spectacular throws and attacking wrestling, at an extraordinary session of its Congress, held in Moscow in May.
These rule changes, which were implemented with immediate effect, include two rounds of three minutes, with the wrestler who has accumulated the most points at the end declared the winner.
A takedown will be rewarded with two points rather than one.
A new 30 second rule has also been introduced to reduce the possibility of wrestlers being deemed passive, which forces them to try and execute positive moves or they will be penalised by the awarding of a point to their opponent.
Following the meeting in Madrid, OBS, which was created by the IOC in 2001 to act as host broadcaster for all Olympic Games, Olympic Winter Games and Youth Olympic Games, welcomed the new rule changes and commended FILA on its efforts to try and make wrestling more accessible to the watching public.
In a note to FILA President Nenad Lalovic (pictured above), OBS chief executive Exarchos wrote: "I would like to extend my thanks to FILA for this visit which gave us the opportunity to discuss the experience from broadcasting wrestling in previous editions of the Olympic Games and, more importantly, about ways to improve the presentation of the sport in the Olympic context in the future."
The OBS also acknowledged the addition of two more weight classes for women from four to six at Rio 2016, the introduction of new formats which will see each category in each style decided in one day and also the introduction of video judging.
Both FILA and OBS agreed to further examine the possibilities of enhancing viewer accessibility to the sport by using strategically placed cameras closer to the action including, on the referee, as well as the introduction of real-time biometrics data on screen during matches.
Following the meeting, FILA president Nenad Lalovic, who replaced Raphaël Martinetti after he resigned in the wake of the IOC's decision to drop wrestling, acknowledged that wrestling has got to continue to embrace change in order Olympic status.
"FILA appreciated the opportunity to meet with the television experts at OBS and to learn from their experience," said the Serbian.
"The advice that has been provided will help us to better serve the needs of broadcasters and to provide a more attractive and exciting presentation of our sport to TV audiences around the world."
"Just as we have modernised our rules, we must explore innovative ways in which we can better present our sport to a wide audience.
"We've got a great sport, but we must embrace new technologies, new presentations and let the world see the unique aspects of wrestling."
Wrestling is up against baseball-softball and squash for inclusion on the 2020 Olympic programme.
A decision on which sport will be chosen is due at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, on September 8.
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