Welcoming world wrestlers: Armenia hosting Greco-Roman World Cup 2010 next month

Next month Armenia will for the first time host a World Cup in Greco-Roman wrestling – a privilege it has been granted as a nation for achievements made in this sport.

Representatives of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia (NOCA) and the Armenian Wrestling Federation say the third place won by Team Armenia at the World Cup in France last year also mattered when the sport’s international governing body, FILA, made the decision on the venue.

Among the eight nations to be represented at the Yerevan competitions, besides the host nation Armenia, are also Iran, Turkey, Russia, Cuba, Georgia, Hungary and Azerbaijan. It is not yet clear whether Azerbaijan will agree to participate, as the Armenian federation has not yet received a reply from the neighboring country, with which Armenia has been locked in a land dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh since the late 1980s and has no political relations at present.

“One shouldn’t now concentrate on whether they will come or not, or what will be if they come, since now we should be glad that we are holding a competition of such a caliber in Armenia,” said NOCA Vice-President Razmik Stepanyan.

Representatives of Armenia’s sports authorities, anyway, think that the ice in sporting relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan has long been broken – still since Armenians took part in the world Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling championships in Baku in 2007. Armenian wrestlers also plan to participate in the European championships in the Azerbaijani capital due to be held in April. (Similarly, a team of young Azeri judokas participated in European championships in Yerevan last September. Security of Armenian athletes in Azerbaijan and Azeri athletes in Armenia in both cases had been agreed in advance at government level and with guarantees to international bodies).

If Azerbaijan fails to field a team for the Yerevan events, its place will be taken by Denmark, Sweden or Uzbekistan.

The final list of participants has not been determined yet, but according to preliminary arrangements, two athletes from each country will be represented in each of the seven weight divisions (i.e. 14 athletes from each country).

The sporting event is not funded from Armenia’s state budget. The financing of the Wrestling World Cup that will cost an estimated $600,000 to hold will come from President of the Armenian Wrestling Federation Samvel Karapetyan and extra-budgetary means of the NOCA.

The competitions will be held at the Karen Demirchyan Sport and Concert Complex in Yerevan on February 13-14.