A wrestling star is going on a hunger strike to protest the sport being dropped from the Summer Olympics.
Armen Nazaryan, a two-time Olympic wrestling champion, announced that his hunger strike will protest the Olympic committee’s February decision to eliminate wrestling from the games, Reuters reported.
The 38-year-old Nazaryan talked about the wrestling hunger strike with the Russian wrestling federation:
“I’m protesting against the recommendation to drop wrestling from the Olympics. Wrestling has always been part of the Olympic program and it’s not right to exclude it from the Games. I’m starting my hunger strike and from now on I will drink only syrup.”
It came as a surprise when the International Olympic Committee announced the elimination of wrestling beginning in 2020. Wrestling has been part of the modern Olympic games since its inauguration in Athens in 1896, and was one of the iconic sports dating back to the ancient Greek Olympics as well.
The Associated Press reported that an executive board decided to drop wrestling from the list of 26 core sports to allow for the addition of a new sport.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” said Mark Adams, a spokesman for the committee. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
The decision outraged the community, and even brought together wrestling stalwarts and political enemies Iran and the United States to protest the move.
While the IOC has already made its decision, Armen Nazaryan’s wrestling hunger strike still has a chance to succeed. As Reuters noted, the sport still has a shot of being added back later this year.