LONDON (AP) — The head of Istanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympics hopes a winning vote coincides with wrestling's reinstatement.
The International Olympic Committee executive board voted this month to drop wrestling from 2020, but the final decision will be made at the assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
That is when Istanbul will be challenging Madrid and Tokyo for the right to stage the games in seven years.
"If we are awarded the games, Turkey wants to have wrestling events in Istanbul," Istanbul bid leader Hasan Arat said Tuesday at a media roundtable in London.
One of Turkey's five medals at the London Games came in wrestling — a bronze — while the country's only gold at the 2008 Beijing Games came in the sport, which was included in the ancient Olympics staged near Turkey's present-day territory.
Wrestling was caught off guard by the IOC executive board decision, and will now have to compete with seven other sports for a spot on the 2020 program: baseball and softball, squash, wakeboarding, sport climbing, roller sports and the martial arts of karate and wushu.
Wrestling leaders have acknowledged that the sport needs to introduce more user-friendly rules that would benefit spectators, television and athletes alike.
"There is a big responsibility for the international wrestling federation to really make their presentation, to make them really understand the position of this sport in those countries, like the United States, like Russia, like Japan, like Uzbekistan, like Turkey, like Azerbaijan," Arat said. "These countries are very sensitive about wrestling. I hope the wrestling federation will do their best to make their presentation. ... They have to lobby, that's very normal."
Arat is preparing for the visit to Istanbul by the IOC evaluation commission from March 24-27. The commission will be in Tokyo next week.