As host nation of the Athens 2004 Olympics, Greece’s national wrestling team will be exempted from qualifying rounds, Milan Ercegan, president of the International Amateur Wrestling Federation (FILA), announced during a press conference yesterday in the western city of Patras, where the 46th Men’s World Greco-Roman Championships begin today. The city was granted the competition after its original host, New York City, where it was to have been held from September 26-29, decided to cancel it in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Athletes from 59 nations are taking part. Ercegan also told the press conference that women’s wrestling will be introduced at the Athens Olympics, where a total of 344 athletes are expected to compete in the men’s and women’s wrestling competitions. It’s important that women wrestlers will compete in an Olympiad for the first time in Greece, where the modern Olympic Games were launched in 1896, Ercegan said. To make way for four new women’s weight divisions at the Athens OIympics, the men’s categories will be trimmed from eight to seven. During the press conference, Ercegan noted Greece’s efforts to put a world championship wrestling event together in less than two months. No doubt, the event’s timing, during the festive season, adds to its appeal for travelers seeking to combine their winter breaks with good-quality entertainment.