Wrestling eyes more women’s classes for Rio Games

Wrestling’s governing body wants the number of women’s weight

categories at the Olympics to increase from four to seven by the

2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Raphael Martinetti, president of the International Federation of

Associated Wrestling Styles, said Friday the International Olympic

Committee previously rejected adding three women’s divisions.

Martinetti said the IOC doesn’t want to go beyond 10,000

athletes for the Olympics. But he said his group will begin a push

in September to persuade the IOC to allow more women’s weight

classes for Rio.

”My understanding is that the potential is absolutely huge for

women’s wrestling,” he said.

Seven weight classes are contested in men’s freestyle and

Greco-Roman wrestling at the Olympics. Martinetti said discussions

about having the same number of men’s and women’s weight classes

started in 2008 in response to a rapidly increasing membership.

The governing body oversees 183 countries, a jump from 130 five

years ago, he said. Of those members, all but Iran offer women’s

wrestling.

”The IOC has agreed to increase the number of categories if it

actually brings something new to the sport, and I think that this

is the case,” Martinetti said.

Martinetti said the federation is open to discussing the

possibility of allowing Iranian women wrestlers to wear head guards

or longer garments in keeping with their beliefs. He said

discussions with Iranian officials have not begun yet.