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Olympics 2020: IOC Removes Wrestling from Olympic Program

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Livan Lopez Azcuy of Cuba in action against Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan during the Men's Freestyle 66 kg Wrestling bronze medal fight on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2013

One of the cornerstone sports of the Olympics has been dropped, as the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that wrestling was being removed in time for the 2020 Games. 

According to Karolos Grohmann of Reuters, the decision to remove wrestling was not an easy one, but it does give the IOC room to look at other sports it may consider adding to the Olympic rotation. 

Jordan Burroughs, gold-medal winner at the 2012 Olympics in the 74 kg division, tweeted shortly after the announcement was made that the fight to save wrestling has just begun.

The report does list sports, including wrestling, that will now apply for inclusion at the 2020 Olympics. They are baseball and softball (both were dropped by the IOC in 2005), karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu

IOC spokesman Mark Adams is quoted in the report as saying that the decision was made for the benefit of the other sports and not because they had an issue with wrestling. 

It was a decision to look at the core sports, what works best for the Olympic games. This was the best programme for the 2020 Olympics. This is not about what's wrong with wrestling but what is good for the Games.

Reasoning for the decision, according to the report, was an analysis of more than three dozen criteria including "popularity, finances, tickets sold and governance."

Wrestling is one of the oldest Olympic sports, dating all the way back to the first Games in 1896. For U.S. fans, wrestler Rulon Gardner is one of the most famous Olympic athletes of the last 20 years thanks to his gold-medal victory in 2000. 

Even though the sport doesn't have the same cachet in the Olympics that it once did, this is a huge deal. The Olympics are as much about history and tradition as progress, so to drop one of the oldest and most celebrated sports is shocking. 

It is still possible that wrestling will get back into the Olympic rotation, though it wouldn't make much sense to have this decision come out and then be overturned when the final decision comes down in September. 

 

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