The IOC executive board decided Tuesday to drop wrestling from the 2020 Games. The decision to scrap one of the oldest and most basic sports in the Olympic program is a surprising one.
IOC leaders decided to retain modern pentathlon — which was considered most at risk — and remove wrestling instead from its list of "core sports," reports The Associated Press.
Wrestling — which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events — goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. The sport featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events at last year's London Games.
Wrestling will now 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.
Modern Pentathlon combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — all sports which already have their own individual Olympic events — so dropping the whole sport of wrestling seems illogical. Pentathlon's governing body, the UIPM, lobbied hard to protect its Olympic status and it seems to have paid off.
The IOC executive board will meet in May to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires.
The last sports removed by the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out in 2005, and out of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen 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 was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.