Two Japanese wrestling gold medallists helped promote Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics on Wednesday even though the sport may be dropped from the Games.
Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho, both three-time Olympic wrestling champions, greeted the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission on the third day of a four-day inspection of Tokyo's bid plans.
IOC vice-president Craig Reedie is leading the visit, which will be followed by trips this month to Madrid and Istanbul, the other two cities vying to host the Games. The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot at its session in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.
Yoshida and Icho are hoping wrestling will remain in the Olympics after it was dropped from the program of the 2020 Games by the IOC executive board last month.
Wrestling will bid to remain on the Olympic program at an IOC meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May. The IOC assembly will have the final say in Buenos Aires.
"I don't have a vote, but I would at least like to go to the presentation," said Yoshida, who won gold in Athens, Beijing and London. "The only thing I can do is pray that wrestling stays in."
The IOC commission was greeted by Yoshida and Icho at the Tokyo Big Sight, the sprawling complex next to Tokyo Bay that would play host to wrestling, fencing and taekwondo if Japan wins the bid.
'A strong presentation'
The proposed elimination of wrestling came as a big surprise to the Japanese wrestling community.
Tomoaki Fukuda, president of the Japan wrestling federation, is already looking at how wrestling can regain its spot as one of the IOC's core Olympic sports.
"FILA wants to follow the standards set by the IOC for the May presentation," Fukuda said, referring to the sport's governing body.
"There are other sports that are on the block. We will discuss our options with experts and give a strong presentation."
Fencer Yuki Ota, a silver medalist in London in the team foil event, spoke to the commission and reiterated the commitment of his fellow Japanese athletes to bring the Summer Games back to Japan for the first time since 1964.
"We stand united in the effort to bring the 2020 Games to Tokyo," Ota said.