Wrestling will be included in the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan, another step in the sport’s bid to win back its place in the Olympics.
Nenad Lalovic, acting president of governing body FILA, signed a ‘letter of understanding’ on Tuesday with organisers of the 2015 Games in Baku.
“This is important to our sport and it will take place in one of the most passionate wrestling countries in the world,” Lalovic said.
Under former president Raphael Martinetti, FILA had indicated it would not take part in the European Games.
“This is important to our sport and it will take place in one of the most passionate wrestling countries in the world”
FILA acting president Nenad Lalovic
Lalovic took over as FILA’s interim president when Martinetti resigned last month after the IOC executive board dropped wrestling from the program of the 2020 Olympics.
Taking part in the European Games, especially in a country with a strong wrestling tradition, seems imperative for FILA as it seeks to regain its Olympic status. Wrestling is now competing against seven other sports for a single opening on the 2020 program.
The competition in Baku will include men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman events and will serve as a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The European Games, which were approved by the European Olympic Committees in December, will have 18 sports on the program. Marquee sports such as athletics and swimming have not agreed to take part.
“Wrestling is among our most important national sports and we are sure that the wrestling competitions in Baku will be a major attraction at these games,” Azerbaijan Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said.
“With the signing of a letter of intent with FILA, we are one step closer to the successful completion of our sports program for 2015.”