President of the International SAMBO Federation (FIAS) Vasily Shestakov gave exclusive interview to News.ru. He revealed why Cheongju (South Korea) has become the venue for the World SAMBO Championships, and why he offers sports and film celebrities to join the ranks of sambists.
– The International SAMBO Federation has received provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). How was this work done? What challenges did you encounter?
– Probably one of the chief issues that we encountered in promoting our sport and in communicating with sports officials was the need to explain that SAMBO had long been a global sport, and not only the Russian one. And that it has nothing to do with samba dance style (laughs). Granted, SAMBO was introduced in the USSR in 1938, but today it is an international sport. For instance, athletes from 90 countries attended the World SAMBO Championships in Sochi in 2017, it was broadcast by television companies of 17 countries, and 27 countries got medaled, including Korea, Cuba, and Cameroon. This is the best evidence of the SAMBO popularity and mastery in it being leveraged across the world.
Incidentally, after receiving the provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympic committees of a number of countries almost immediately recognized the national SAMBO federations. And recognition at the national level means governmental support, including the financing.
– Are there any Olympic prospects, then?
– Prospects are always out there, without them our work would’ve made no sense at all. Thus, the IOC granted FIAS provisional recognition for three years, and in a couple of years we would like to receive a permanent one, well, and then to compete for the inclusion in the program of the Olympic Games. Under the favorable conditions, SAMBO may become part of the Olympics in the coming years. And today we are doing all that is possible and impossible for this to happen.
– Meanwhile, SAMBO is actively expanding now. How many participating countries do you expect to see at the World Championships in Korea?
– We always strive for the maximum coverage. But there are circumstances which are beyond our reasonable control, such as travel visa support. If the organizers of the Championships – the Korean party – manage to cope with such issues, then we should anticipate a truly wide representation. If not, then we hope for a breakthrough at the 2020 World Championships in Ashgabat.
– Why is Cheongju chosen as the city for the tournament?
– This is due to FIAS regulations. To stage competitions of this level, the organization’s regulation obliges the federations to submit their applications to be considered by the FIAS Executive Committee. The application of the Republic of Korea proved the best and therefore it won.
Well, for my part, I’d add that we certainly strive to expand the geographical scale of the Championships, to carry them out on different continents, so that the expansion of SAMBO goes as evenly as possible. I can say that in the not too distant future we will hold the World SAMBO Championships in Latin America.
– Will SAMBO be presented at the 2021 World Combat Games?
– Yes, SAMBO is included in the program of the World Combat Games that will be held in the capital of Kazakhstan in 2021. SAMBO will be among the 15 sports incorporated in the program of these multisport competitions.