Bulgarian national wrestling coach Armen Nazaryan has begun a three week hunger strike to protest the IOC’s decision to recommend his sport’s removal from the 2020 Olympic Games.
The 39-year-old Greco-Roman coach, who won Olympics gold for Armenia in 1996 and for Bulgaria in 2000, said he’ll “only take juices” until the Euro Championships in Georgia March 22.
Nazaryan’s protest follows that of Bulgarian countrymen Valentin Yordanov, who returned his Atlanta gold to the IOC last month, Russia’s Sagid Murtazalie of Russia, who returned his Sydney heavyweight gold last week.
Both men called it one of the hardest things they’ve ever had to do, but hope their acts will bring awareness to the cause. Wrestling can still earn its spot in the Games back if it can survive two IOC votes this year against the other prospective sports vying for Olympics status.