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REUTERS - The Japan Wrestling Federation (JWF) has launched an online petition site seeking 100,000 signatures to help the sport remain an Olympic discipline.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board made a surprise recommendation this month to drop the sport from the 2020 Games, leaving wrestling to fight with seven other disciplines for one vacant spot when the board meets in May.
The Japanese federation plans to submit the signatures from the "Save Olympic Wrestling" site to the IOC before the May meeting.
"We won four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics and at least one at 15 straight competitions (at the Games)," the JWF said on the site.
"The Japan Wrestling Federation is deeply disappointed by the decision to try to remove wrestling from the Olympics. We ask everyone for their support to keep wrestling at the Olympic Games for 2020 and beyond."
India, which has won four Olympic wrestling medals, has also sought the backing of other countries where the sport is popular in a bid to help retain its Games status.
Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Yordanov sent back his Olympic gold medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games on Wednesday, protesting against the IOC recommendation to drop the sport.
Wrestling's possible exit has been blamed by some on a lack of political support within the IOC executive board and less than a week after the recommendation, wrestling's world governing body (FILA) president Raphael Martinetti resigned.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, editing by Tony Jimenez