Wrestling's Medical Professionals on Front Lines of Pandemic

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (April 22) -- The wrestling community has always been larger than just its wrestlers on the mat. Today, as the sports fans, coaches, and administrators each "Stay Strong, and Stay at Home!" our sport's medical professionals are on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

From all over the world wrestling's brave medical professionals are doing anything and everything they can to protect the lives of those in need during these unprecedented times.

"We are always grateful for our medical personnel, but I want us all to take an extra moment and celebrate their contribution and sacrifice," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic. "We are very proud of their efforts."

Dr. Babak Shadgan reviews his research project aimed at improving early diagnosis of COVID-19.

Dr. Babak Shadgan, the head of UWW Medical Commission and an Assistant Professor of orthopaedics at the University of British Columbia in Canada is leading a multi-center research project on development of a novel biosensor for screening and monitoring COVID-19 patients. Successful achievement by Dr. Shadgan and his research team will improve early diagnosis and treatment of patients affected by COVID-19.

Dr. Loukas Konstantinou, a trauma and sports orthopaedic surgeon in Greece and a member of the UWW Medical Commission is helping patients, including those infected by coronavirus.

“Our everyday work brings a high degree of vulnerability, concerning the contact with patients and citizens who are infected with the virus," said Konstantinou. "We take all the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our patients,” he said.

Dr. Szabolcs Molnar in surgery this month in Budapest.

Medical commission member Dr. Szabolcs Molnar exemplifies the dedication of medical professionals around the world. As an Assistant Professor of the orthopedics trauma for the largest hospital in Budapest, Molnar is working in the triage units and in the operating room. "I'm honored to do what I can to help my countrymen," he said.

The dangers of the virus are very real for front line workers. Medical commission member Dr. Sadegh Mahboubi had been treating patients in Iran throughout February and March before contracting COVID-19 himself. Most of the medical offices were closed so he stayed open and worked 18-hour days, but eventually had to rest after the disease affected his breathing.

"I didn't want a hospital bed occupied by me, so I was quarantined by my wife who is a doctor," he said. "If a wrestling match, I guess I lost to COVID, but I am back at work now to help."

Mahboubi says he lost 15 kilograms during his ordeal.

A recovered Dr. Sadegh Mahboubi in his office.

In the United States, a task force of former wrestlers, physicians and political leaders has been formed in an effort to create solutions for the sport's return to competition. The group is coming up with solutions for how to move into the next phase of life with the coronavirus still very much a concern. The working task force includes longtime wrestling physician Dr. Bernard Feldman and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Other members of UWW Medical Commission including Dr. Stevan Sikimic, a respirologist in Serbia; Dr. Stefan Strugarov, a surgeon in Bulgaria; Dr Klaus Johann, an orthopaedic surgeon in Germany; Dr. Abdelghani Chahi, a cardiologist in Morocco; Dr. Jose Padilha, a surgeon in Brazil; Dr. Kohei Nakajima, an orthopaedic surgeon in Japan; Dr. Mika Lehto, a cardiologist in Finland; Dr. Carol Maitre in France; Dr. Irina Dulepova in Russia; and Dr. Elena Abaeva in Uzbekistan are all helping patients at the high-risk front line.

"I've said before that our sport knows struggle and we know how to fight," said Lalovic. "I'm very proud of our medical professionals and look forward to seeing them again on the field of play."


Executive Board Develops Plan for Remaining 2020 Events

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (July 3) -- Following the decision to cancel and postpone international wrestling competition until August 31, the Executive Board of United World Wrestling recently convened to develop an action plan for the remaining events in 2020.

This plan includes conditions and criteria which would allow events to be delivered if they ensure the health and safety of the athletes and any additional participants. Competitions must provide general sanitary conditions, the ability to travel to/from the nation,  and robust countermeasures to COVID-19 impacts on competition must be enforced. 

The specific countermeasures are still being reviewed by various UWW commissions and experts with the intent to provide the safest possible competition conditions.

UWW will also work together and maintain dialogue with the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical department to remain up to date on these critical details.

Any competition wishing to be held in 2020 must follow the criteria as established by the Executive Board and must be fulfilled for any competitions to go ahead. The competitions must include 8 of the 10 best ranked teams and a minimum of 70% participating countries (based on prior year’s athlete attendance).

To be valid, the conditions and criteria for competition must be confirmed by UWW and local organizers two months prior to the start of the competition. If the criteria is met, the best-case scenario would allow for the following competitions to take place on these dates:

- Cadet European Championships – City to be confirmed, POL - 05-11.10.2020
- Junior European Championships – Skopje, MKD 19-25.10.2020
- U23 World Championships – Tampere, FIN, 23-29.11.2020

To help reduce risk and control the safety of the events the Executive Board also chose to postpone the Junior World Championships until December and combine the Junior and Senior World Championships with the same organizer. Belgrade will be the host for both competitions.

- Junior World Championships – Belgrade, SRB, 04-10.12.2020
- Senior World Championships – Belgrade, SRB 12-20.12.2020

Continental Championships will be reviewed by each Continental Council and the feasibility of each competition will be determined, taking into consideration the status of the pandemic within each region.

The Board also decided if the conditions do not allow for Junior World Championships then Continental Championships may be considered in its place. For example, if conditions do not permit for U-23 World Championships, U-23 European Championships may be organized during those dates.

The Executive Board will reconvene in August and keep the wrestling community up to date with any new decision in accordance with updated information on the pandemic, as well as update the competition programme and competition delivery criteria.

“United World Wrestling has the utmost respect and thank all organizers for their dedication and commitment to delivering competitions during these unprecedented times,” said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic.

“We would like to thank the entire wrestling community for their support and flexibility in adapting to the conditions that are changing daily. Together we will achieve success on and off the mat.”