To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


BISHKEK (May 10) - Reigning world champion Chiharu Icho failed to make weight for competition in the women's 48-kg category at the Asian wrestling championships, unleashing worries that she might be held out of the world championships in September.

The 2007 world championships in Baku (September 17-23) will serve as the first round of the qualifying process for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The fears of the Japan Wrestling Federation arise from a FILA directive earlier this year, saying that countries will not be allowed to enter more wrestlers in the world championships than had been entered in the continental meets.

In other words, a country with only two entries in its relevant continental championships will not be allowed to enter more than two wrestlers in the world meet.

Icho, who came to the Kyrgyz capital to compete at 48 kg, decided not to wrestle the day before the competition saying that she is still bothered by a nagging lower back pain. Icho took part in the weigh-in on May 9 but did not make weight.

Japanese team officials had reasoned that taking part in the weigh-in would be interpreted as taking part in the competition. But, JWF president Tomiaki Fukuda, who is also a FILA vice president, is worried that FILA may not be so lenient.

・FILA has not decided if this kind of case (taking part in the weigh-in) will be recognized as taking part in the competition,・Fukuda said. 的 think we will talk about it later and decide, but it is possible that it may not be recognized as taking part,・Fukuda explained, suggesting that it might be seen as a chance to trip up Japan's female wrestling juggernaut.

Further, Icho's younger sister, Kaori, has been troubled with a pulled hamstring in her left leg. And, even though she passed the weigh-in at 63 kg, she forfeited her first match at the championships.

Again, Japanese officials are worried if this will be recognized as taking part in the competition. Fukuda vented his anger to Japanese journalists, asking why Japanese coaches did bring an alternate to the championships if they thought the first wrestler might not be able to compete.

It is expected that the matter will be discussed at the FILA Bureau meeting in Switzerland on June 14. The JWF announced earlier this year that it intended to send its best wrestlers to the women's event at the Asian championships since this would be final big event before the world championships.

The national team committee of the JWF decided that it would send the winners of the Japan Beverage Queens Cup tournament to Bishkek. After the April 14 Queens Cup, officials of the club sponsoring the Icho sisters notified the JWF that they wanted to withdraw their wrestlers because of the injuries.

The JWF, however, noted that there was still some time and urged the wrestlers to continue medical treatment up to the championships in the hopes that they would still be able to wrestle.