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Excerpts from press conference by UWW President Nenad Lalovic during Olympic Games

by Tokyo 2020 My Info

TOKYO - Comments from United World Wresting president and International Olympic Committee executive board member Nenad LALOVIC (SRB) at a press conference on Sunday.


On opposition to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:

“First of all, I would like to say that there are always opponents to the Olympic Games everywhere. I don’t know if you remember, but in Beijing (2008), we all had to die from pollution. In London, we had been threatened that we would explode together underground. In Rio, we should all have been killed by the Zika mosquito. But it didn’t happen.

“And we moved the marathon race from Tokyo to Sapporo because of the heat. Since the pandemic has practically surrounded us, nobody ever mentioned the Tokyo heat. It is not interesting anymore.

“Today we stand together with the media, athletes, National Olympic Committees and countries taking part in this Games, to fight the pandemic. This is the best way: by having the Olympics.

“You mention also the opposition in Japan. I remember there were 350,000 digital signatures against the Games. May I remind you that in 2013 when we had the crisis (the IOC voted to drop wrestling from the Olympic Games programme), the Japanese Wrestling Federation collected more than one million physical signatures, and I insist on the word physical because people really came and signed. Digital signatures are a little bit easier.

“Certainly that is a politically difficult situation, all the pressure from the opposition and so on, but at the end, all of this has been forgotten when the Games were open and the first medals awarded. All that is behind us and we want to finish the Olympic Games in a bright way. Nothing can stop us anymore.”

On Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) attempting to win an historic fourth Olympic Games gold medal at age 38:

“It would be the first male wrestler to have that number. We already have ICHO Kaori (JPN) who has four gold medals. So finally, one man will equal one woman. This is really great. The way he wrestled today encouraged us to think that this is possible. This is a huge effort. He is not the youngest wrestler here, probably the eldest, but definitely he is in very good form. I saw his matches. That would be a new-born superstar of wrestling.”

On the growth of women’s wrestling:

“As an example, the matches we saw today were fantastic, really fantastic, scoring so many technical points. Women’s wrestling becomes more and more popular and will soon be as popular as men’s wrestling.

“And we in the federation all have full confidence that we are on the right track. Especially the national federations and NOCs by supporting and backing up women’s wrestling to the maximum. It has to be done, for sure. We saw the reasons this morning.”

On potential developments and changes to wrestling for Paris 2024:

“We have some ideas about improvements. We will analyse at the technical commission everything that has been shown the last two or three years since we adopted new rules. There may be some changes or improvements. But it has to be analysed very, very seriously because I think we already achieved something different.

“Probably some small adjustments must be done. But this will be nothing revolutionary until we see that we are not progressing. At this moment, I am absolutely sure that we are progressing in every way. The approach to wrestling is totally different with those rules. You see aggression in Greco-Roman wrestling, which we didn’t have before.”

On holding weigh-ins the day of competition, rather than a day before:

“In the past we had the weigh-in the previous day, together with the technical conference and the draw. We kept everything the previous day except the weigh-in. Why? We found out that wrestlers were losing too much weight and this is very dangerous for their health.

“The weight control should be done permanently and not start 10 days before the competition and then lose even 10-20% of their body weight. We take care of our athletes and we do not want to produce disabled people after they stop competing. This is why we have introduced that rule.

“This weight loss might still remain but in a very, very small percentage which doesn’t harm the health of the athlete. Of course it is not easy to adapt to that; it needs time. The idea is that people have to perform and practise their sport at a natural weight. This is the healthiest way to practise a sport. This is the sole reason we do not expect at all to review this rule. At all. Because this is also a question of responsibility that we have towards our athletes.”

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