Members of the crack Italian team pictured in training yesterday

In a surprise move, the International Olympic Committee has announced that the fringe activity of strangling will be included for the first time in the forthcoming Games in Tokyo this summer.

Strangling, a practice that goes back thousands of years and was made famous by prolific exponents such as, Albert De Salvo, the notorious Boston Strangler, and the murderous Hillside Stranglers, Bueno and Bianchi, has never before been considered for The Games on humanitarian grounds and due to the lack of competitors who were prepared to risk imprisonment or death as a result of taking part.

A spokesman for the IOC told newsmen last night: “The committee has decided to expand its sporting boundaries to include a number of lesser-known disciplines for these games and strangling just happens to be one of these”.

Competitors will be judged on style, artistic presentation and the speed in which they despatch their victims.

The American team are hot favourites for gold, although the Italians, with their long-standing garrotting background, could well run them close.