New Wrestling Rules To Save Olympic Wrestling

FILA approved Saturday new, more fan-friendly rules, and removed the word “acting” from the title of its new president Nenad Lalovic, who was elected president during a Congress meeting in Moscow Saturday.

The changes, which are effective immediately, were announced in response to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision in February to eliminate all forms of wrestling from its Olympic sports roster, effective in 2020.

Lalovic said of the new wrestling rules, “we got out of this Congress with decisions needed for our sport to remain in the Olympic family”.

The changes include a new match format featuring two, three-minute sessions instead of three two-minute periods, with cumulative scoring rather than the previous two-out-of-three system.

FILA vice president Stan Dziedzic said, “cumulative score incentivizes the wrestlers to score more often and consistently. In addition, or equally important, the total score is easier for the spectators to understand. It’s difficult for a spectator, not to mention the athletes, when one wrestler wins the first period 5-0, loses the next two periods 1-0, and loses the match”.

He added, “the common view was that two minutes was not sufficient time to execute the requisite tactics and strategies to provide an exciting match. What’s more, it deprives the viewing audience of witnessing the will of the wrestler”.

Other changes include elevating the value of a takedown to two points (making it more valuable than a point for the pushout or a penalty point), and new point values for a technical fall – 10 points in freestyle, seven in Greco. Also, there will be separation of returning athletes from the previous World Championships although it has not yet been determined if it will be just the two top athletes or as many as four athletes.

FILA is also changing its constitution to include a female vice-president and will increase the number of women’s weight classes if it remains in the Olympics.

FILA hopes the new rules – designed to simplify the sport and make it more exciting for participants and fans – will help wrestling’s case for remaining a part of the Olympic sports roster.