Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho, Japanese legends in wrestling and winners of three consecutive gold medals each at the last three Olympics, including London 2012, helped in the promotion of Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics even though the status of their sport is still a gray matter. They were present to greet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission during a visit to the Tokyo Big Sight.
Tokyo Big Sight is what the Tokyo International Exhibition Center is famously called. The expansive complex, located in Tokyo Bay, first opened its doors in 1996. It would play host to the sports of fencing and taekwondo should the Japanese capital win its bid to host the Games. It would also stage wrestling if the IOC Executive Board’s decision last month to cut it from the list of core Olympic sports after Rio 2016 is reversed. Yoshida, who competes in the 55 kilogram category and carried Japan’s flag at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of London 2012, knows that she has no control over the situation. “The only thing I can do is pray that wrestling stays in,” she said. Meanwhile, some 300 young local wrestlers had quietly lined the entrance to the Tokyo Big Sight; some were holding a banner that simply read “Wrestling”.
Wrestling’s campaign was given a massive boost earlier when John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC Executive Board which made the decision to axe wrestling, said that he believed the decision would be overturned. “I would be very surprised if wrestling isn’t one of those [on the shortlist],” Coates said. “You could well get a very different result when there’s 115 people voting as opposed to 14.”
[via Inside the Games]