By Duncan Mackay at the JW Marriott Hotel Absheron in Baku
April 29 - Sambo, the martial art developed for Russia's military and police force in the 1930s, is hoping to take another leap forward in its expansion plans by getting recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The International Sambo Federation (FIAS) President Vasily Shestakov believes the sport already fulfils most of the criteria for IOC-recognition, including having a drugs testing programme developed in association with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and having 84 members around the world.
"I believe sambo has good prospects," Shestakov told insidethegames here during the annual Congress of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) where a special demonstration of the sport was held.
"It has the most technical arsenal of all the martial arts and if you look over the five continents then you will see how popular sambo has become all over the world.
"Our bid to recognise sambo as the Olympic sport is with the IOC and the bid constantly advances."
Among those backing sambo, Shestakov claims, is Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees.
"We have discussed in detail the Olympic perspectives for sSambo, and Al-Sabah, who has long practiced various martial arts himself, promised an all-embracing support in that direction," Shestakov, a State Duma deputy, told insidethegames.
Part of the FIAS strategy involves getting sambo onto the programme of as many multi-sport games as it can.
This year the sport is due to make its debut at the Asian Beach Games in Phuket, which is scheduled to take place between November 14 and 23.
It appeared on the Universiade programme in Kazan last year.
A Commonwealth Sambo Association has also been established, which means that the sport could one day feature at the Commonwealth Games.
A sambo demonstration event was even held last year at Kensington Palace in London and was attended by Prince Michael of Kent.
There are plans to hold a major international event in London later this year.
"Prince Michael was fascinated by the methods demonstrated by our athletes," said Shestakov.
"The audience was also delighted by the event."
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