19 May 2013

Rule changes in wrestling to stave off Olympic oblivion

10:04 am on 19 May 2013

The ancient sport of wrestling has agreed a wholesale shake-up of its rules to make the sport more attractive for spectators, in a desperate last throw of the dice to stave off the threat of being axed from the Olympics in 2020.

The IOC executive board is set to meet in St Petersburg on May 29 to recommend sports for the 2020 edition to the IOC session, which makes the final decision in Buenos Aires in September.

Wrestling's governing body FILA met in an extraordinary session in Moscow to agree the changes, with delegates saying their sport risked looking boring and incomprehensible to outsiders.

The changes to both the Olympic wrestling styles -- Greco Roman and Freestyle -- aim to make the sport more attractive for TV audiences by favouring spectacular throws and attacking wrestling.

Rather than being played as the best of three two-minute periods, bouts will simply be two times three minutes with cumulative scoring.

The wrestler with the most points at the end wins.

A takedown will be rewarded with two points instead of one, while there will be less incentive for wrestlers to push opponents off the mat, urging them instead to try ot make plays inside.

A 30-second "shot clock" similar to that employed in basketball will be switched on if a wrestler is deemed to be passive, giving him 30 seconds to score or else a point will go to his opponent.