Wrestling axed by Olympics
LAUSANNE, Switzerland—International Olympic Committee leaders today dropped wrestling from the Olympic program—a surprise decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.
The IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon—the event considered most at risk—and remove wrestling instead from its list of 25 “core sports.”
Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
“In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020.
“It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports,” he stressed.
Adams said the decision was made by secret ballot over several rounds, with members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group.
Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo, and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press.
The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, and global participation and popularity.
With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board also was subject to political, emotional, and sentimental factors.
The international wrestling federation, known by the French acronym FILA, is headed by Raphael Martinetti and is based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
Calls to the federation for comment were not immediately returned.
Wrestling now will join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu.
They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games.
Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.