A day after the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics, the organization has reinstated wrestling to the festivities just seven months after voting for its dismissal.
Wrestling (48 votes) defeated baseball/softball (24) and squash (22) in a vote that only took one round, according to the Team Great Britain Twitter feed:
The vote came at a time where wrestling's future in the Summer Olympics was on life support. The IOC Executive Board recommended dropping wrestling from its program of 26 core sports in February, after a study on the economics and feasibility of the sport showed that the Summer Olympics would be more economical with only 25 core sports.
That decision led to wrestling being placed on a shortlist with seven other sports—baseball/softball, karate, roller skating, climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu—for the one additional spot. The initial list was then whittled down to the finalists voted on Sunday.
At the time, the IOC's recommendation was shocking. Wrestling has perhaps the most storied history of any sport at the Summer Olympics, having once been the marquee event on the program. Recent Olympiads have seen wrestling's popularity drop precipitously, as more spectator-friendly sports like track and field, basketball and swimming carried the international conversation.
This vote assures the historic sport will remain on the program through the 2024 Olympics.
But it won't be without changes. Upon the recommendation from the Executive Board, wrestling's governing body, International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, went into enacting sweeping alterations would appeal to a broader audience.
Former president Raphael Martinetti resigned and was replaced by new interim chief Nenad Lalovic, who led the charge on a majority of the most notable tweaks.
Starting in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Olympic wrestlers will change to two three-minute periods rather than three two-minute periods and do cumulative scoring rather than a best-of-three scenario. At the time, Lalovic told the Associated Press, via The New York Times, that the moves will bring wrestling into the more modern age.
“The common view was that two minutes was not sufficient time to execute the requisite tactics and strategies to provide an exciting match," Lalovic said. "What’s more, it deprives the viewing audience of witnessing the will of the wrestler.”
Additional female weight classes have also been added, along with changes to presentation. There have also been other rule alterations designed to make the sport easier to follow as a spectator.
Baseball and softball have been voted out of the Summer Olympics since 2008 in Beijing. Squash has never appeared at the Olympics, but has drawn major support as its popularity has grown across the world. Both will be eligible in future votes for inclusion.
The IOC announced its decision at its general assembly in Buenos Aires. More than 100 IOC members were in participation, where they voted first on the location of the 2020 games and then the included sport.
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