By Duncan Mackay

Sambo has been officially added to the programme for next year's European Games in Baku ©SportAccordSambo, the martial art developed for Russia's military and police force in the 1930s, has been officially added to the inaugural European Games in Baku - as insidethegames reported exclusively in May that it would be. 

Today's confirmation means that the sport will be the 20th on the programme for the Games.

Sambo - an explosive mix of judo, jujitsu and wrestling as well as local fighting styles - is extremely popular in Azerbaijan and has a long history in the surrounding Caucasus region.

Several leaders from Eastern European countries, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Honorary President of the International Sambo Federation. had lobbied for its inclusion. 

The decision is in line with the European Olympic Committees' (EOC) vision to make the European Games innovative and pioneering, it has been claimed by officials in Azerbaijan. 

It means there will be 16 sports and four non-Olympic sports at the European Games, due to take place between June 12 and 28.

Sambo is described as an explosive mix of judo, jujitsu and wrestling ©SportAccordSambo is described as an explosive mix of judo, jujitsu and wrestling ©SportAccord

"We are delighted to formally announce that Sambo will be included in the sports programme at Baku 2015 and increase the number of innovative new sports we will have on display at next year's inaugural Games," said Simon Clegg, chief operating officer of Baku 2015. 

"The opportunity to include such a highly popular sport here in Azerbaijan will further increase the excitement about the event and potentially leave the European Olympic Committees with the legacy of including popular local sports within future sport programmes."

There is expected to be four weight categories - two for men and two for women - contested at Baku 2015 with a minimum of 64 athletes taking part.

Sambo is currently waiting to hear from the International Olympic Committee about whether it will be officially recognised by them.

That will be the first step on the path to one day gaining a place on the Olympic programme. 

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