Indian wrestling fraternity today expressed shock and surprise at the IOC's move to drop the sport from the 2020 Olympic programme, with London medal winners fearing the decision could halt the rising profile of the game in the country.
In a sudden development, the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board in its meeting at Lausanne today decided to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympics.
"I don't see any reason why IOC decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic programme. I am still finding it difficult to come to terms with the news," Sushil Kumar, who won a silver in London Olympics in 66 kg freestyle event, told PTI.
"In my view, the IOC would find it difficult to remove it from the list given the sport's huge popularity across the globe. It's an old sport and famous worldwide," said Sushil who created history by becoming the first Indian to win back-to-back Olympic medals.
Asked if he feels that wrestling can come back when the IOC votes on the inclusion of a sport in its Executive Board meeting later in the year, he said, "Yes, I am confident, wrestling will remain part of the Olympic Games."
Sushil's childhood friend and London Olympics bronze medallist, Yogeshwar Dutt said the decision would be a "big setback" for the upcoming crop of wrestlers.
"I am extremely disappointed to hear the news. Wrestling has made India a force to reckon with in the Olympic arena and the IOC has dropped a worldwide famous sport from its list. It's a shocking news to me," said Dutt.
"What about the upcoming wrestlers? What about their future? Sushil won medals in Beijing and London and I won it in London too. We are targeting the 2016 Rio Olympics but there are other young wrestlers who are preparing for the next edition. What about them? They would become aimless after this sudden decision," added Dutt.