Wrestling in Olympics 2020 Dropped: Sport Faces Uphill Battle

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 04:05 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Wrestlers and fans of the sport were shocked to find their event was dropped from the official roster of games in the upcoming 2020 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the news in a blog post Tuesday, pinning the dreams of many wrestlers.

Wrestling, one of the oldest sports in the history of the games, now must vie with seven other sports for inclusion in the 2020 events. Officials from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu—and now wrestling—are pushing for a single spot at the 2020 ceremony.

The IOC will convene in St. Petersburg, Russia in May to hold a final vote on which sport they will include.

"I'll absolutely do everything in my power to make sure that the decision doesn't go through and it isn't finalized in the fall," U.S. Olympic Wrestling Star Cael Sanderson told The Associated Press. "This is a big deal. You're talking about your kids having that dream of winning a gold medal. It inspires you to be better, to work hard, to set goals."

People familiar with the history of the games said the chance of the sport returning is slim.

Wrestling has been a part of the Olympics since ancient times, 708 B.C., and has had widespread appeal because of its simple rules.

However, the sport does not appeal to a younger demographic, which is what Olympics organizers are looking for as they seek more visible stars and larger contracts.

"In an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games," the IOC said.

Wrestling was voted out from a group of bottom-ranking sports like modern pentathlon, taekwondo, and field hockey.

The pentathlon was expected to get the axe, but the IOC made the last-minute decision to take wrestling out instead. A secret ballot by the 15-member IOC executive board, at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, determined the outcome.

In the 2012 London Olympics, there were 11 medal events in freestyle wrestling and seven in Greco-Roman.

Now, it appears there will be no opportunities for athletes who worked their entire lives to reach the prestigious games.

John Smith, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Oklahoma State wrestling coach, expressed his disappointment with the decision.

"It just made me sick to think that the opportunity for 14, 15, 16-year-old kids who have thoughts about being an Olympic champion is erased," he said. "I was on the phone a lot (Tuesday) with not just people in this country, but all over the world. We're all ready to stand together."

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