Moscow, Feb 28 (IANS) Russian wrestlers should not return their medals to protest the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to exclude the sport from the Games, the Russian Olympic Committee said Thursday.
"We now need to make efforts to persuade the IOC to keep wrestling. The honestly-won Olympic medals must remain with their owners," Alexander Zhukov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee, said.
He called the Russian athletes to undertake mass actions to demonstrate how popular the sport is before the IOC executive committee meeting due in St. Petersburg in May. Zhukov did not specify what actions the athletes could undertake.
Earlier this week, two Olympic champions in wrestling, Russian Sagid Murtazaliev and Bulgarian Valentin Jordanov, announced they would return their gold medals in protest the IOC plans.
The IOC said Feb 11 it would not recommend to include wrestling into the programme of the Olympic Games in 2020. The final decision will be made in September at the 125th IOC session in Argentina.
The cities of Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo contest to host the 2020 Olympics.