December 17 - The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) has announced two male weight classes will be dropped from the Olympic programme to fulfil pledges towards gender equality ahead of Rio 2016.
Men's freestyle and Greco-Roman will each lose one events after a re-alignment of classes between light and heavyweight categories, while two women's freestyle divisions will be added, ensuring six events will now be held in each of the three disciplines.
The move toward increased gender equality, along with the various other reforms announced today, formed a crucial part of FILA's promises pledged to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during its campaign to keep its place on the programme after Rio 2016.
The sport was controversially dropped from the list of Olympics core sports by the IOC's ruling Executive Board in February after a perceived lack of modernising measures, but was reinstated at September's Session in Buenos Aires after overcoming opposition from baseball-softball and squash.
Freestyle wrestlers will now compete at 57 and 65 kilograms rather than at 55, 60 and 66kg, like they did at London 2012, while the two lightest Greco-roman categories will now be held at 59 and 66kg
Women's freestyle was introduced for Athens 2004 and, after competing at 48, 55, 63 and 72kg at London 2012, they will wrestle at 48, 53, 58, 63, 69 and 75kg at Rio 2016.
This "should help open up competition in an emerging sport that has been dominated by Japan", it was claimed.
It also further reflects gender equality that has already been emphasised by September's appointment of Canada's former Olympic champion Carol Huynh as chairman of FILA's Athletes Commission.
The new weight categories will come into affect on January 1, with FILA President Nenad Lalovic, who took up his position earlier this year to oversee the modernising agenda, emphasising how important they are if the sport is to progress.
"We believe we have set the foundation for both the Olympic Games and the FILA championships with these weight classes, rule changes and competition format," he said.
"We thank the members of the [FILA] Technical Commission for their guidance in this important decision.
"We used the knowledge and ideas of various commissions in FILA to reach these decisions - it was a total organisational effort.
"We want to make changes that make the sport better so if we need to change, we will - our goal is to be excellent in everything we do."
A series of other modernising measures have also been announced alongside the changes in the Olympic weight categories.
This includes the introduction of a challenge procedure, additional points for throws and a "technical superiority" rule in overly one-sided matches. .
Additional events will also be added to the non-Olympic programme, where men and women's freestyle and men's Greco-roman will each consist of eight events.
This will include the World Championships and follows a pattern seen in other sports, such as taekwondo, where the Olympic weight divisions differ from other competitions.
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