Sambo wrestling’s path to enter Olympic program ‘is difficult, but possible’, says chief

MOSCOW, /TASS/. It will be difficult for the Sambo wrestling to make its way into the program of the Olympic sports, but chances are still on the table due to this sport’s audience appeal, Vasily Shestakov, the president of the International Sambo Federation (FIAS), said on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued on November 30 its recognition for the Sambo wrestling as an Olympic competition, which can help the sport to officially enter the Olympic program of wrestling competitions in the future and to secure a financial assistance on behalf of the global Olympic body.

“Today, Sambo wrestling is a sustainable sport,” Shestakov said speaking at a news conference, hosted by TASS on Tuesday. “The [previous Sambo] World Championship was broadcast live in 20 countries, 40 more countries broadcast the recordings, and the championship attracted a television audience of over one million viewers.”

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The World Sambo Championships, which is organized annually by the FIAS as the main tournament in Sambo and Combat Sambo, was held this year in Romania’s Bucharest between November 8 and 12. The very first World Sambo Cup was held in Spain’s Oviedo in 1977.

“The championship [in Romania] was also broadcast by the Olympic television channel and it proves that our sport is interesting and is in a high demand,” the FIAS president stated.

“It will be difficult to enter the Olympic program, but Sambo still has its chances as it is a very spectacular sport,” Shestakov said adding that the next Summer Olympics are due in Japan’s Tokyo in 2020.

Sambo wrestling originated in Russia in the 1920s, when soldiers of the then-Soviet Army developed their own hand-to-hand combat technique. The word Sambo is a Russian acronym, which stands for “self-defense without weapons.”

According to most recent statistics, provided by the All-Russia Sambo Federation, over 500,000 Russians practiced Sambo as of today and the figure includes over 230,000 children.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in 2016, speaking about Sambo wrestling and its global perspectives, that the Russia-originated wrestling should be included in the Olympic program, but it would require a lengthy and labor-consuming period.

FIAS president Shestakov has once again praised a decision of the IOC to recognize the Sambo wrestling and pledged to keep working on the improvements of this sport’s federation in the future.

“We will continue working on the improvements and developments in the international organization as well as in national federations,” Shestakov said. “We have met in advance all of the requirements on behalf of the IOC to be recognized.”

“We [Sambo] are the first Russia-originated sport to be recognized on behalf of the IOC and I believe that something of the kind is most unlikely to happen in near future,” he added.

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