ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his support for wrestling to remain in the Olympics on Thursday, calling it "one of the fundamental sports." The Olympic movement, Putin said while standing next to IOC President Jacques Rogge, "was based always on their ancient times tradition, and wrestling, as we know, is one of the fundamental sports, traditional for the Olympic Games." After the IOC removed wrestling as one of the core sports for the 2020 Games in February, Putin called the decision "unjustified" and promised he would do what he could to keep it in the games.
His latest comments came one day after the IOC executive board included wrestling on a shortlist for the 2020 Games, along with squash and baseball-softball.
A final decision will be made in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Russia is one of wrestling's powerhouses; Russia and the Soviet Union have 77 Olympic gold medals in the sport.
In a demonstration of the sport's importance to Russia, the international wrestling federation held a special congress in Moscow this month to announce rule changes aimed at making the sport more attractive to spectators and, thus, to the IOC.