Bangkok: The head of the international wrestling federation resigned on Saturday in the wake of the decision to remove the sport from the list of guaranteed Olympic events.
The departure of Switzerland's Raphael Martinetti came at the FILA Executive Committee meeting in Phuket, Thailand, and was confirmed by FILA member Nenad Lakovic. Martinetti had been in the position since 2002.
Earlier in the week the International Olympic Committee removed wrestling from the list of sports guaranteed a berth in future summer Olympics, meaning it must compete with other fringe sports for a spot on the program.
U.S.A. Wrestling executive director Rich Bender paid credit to Martinetti but said his departure could boost wrestling's chances of getting back in the Olympic program.
"This decision provides international wrestling with an opportunity to change and improve," Bender said in a statement on U.S.A. Wrestling's website.
"The sport will now be able to create a fresh new relationship with the International Olympic Committee and address some of the pressing challenges and opportunities facing wrestling."
The FILA Executive Committee meeting was scheduled to hold a media conference later Saturday.
Now wrestling is no longer a core Olympic sport, it must compete with seven other sports — baseball and softball, squash, karate, wakeboarding, sport climbing, roller sports and the martial art of wushu — in lobbying to get the last spot on the 28-sport program for the 2020 Olympic games.
The decision is scheduled to be decided at an IOC meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia in May.