[caption id="attachment_16864" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports[/caption]

Many sports fans were shocked on Tuesday when the International Olympic Committee announced that it was going to drop wrestling from the Games by the year 2020.

It’s surprising since wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the Games and there haven’t been any noteworthy controversies surrounding the sport. While wrestling was jettisoned, the IOC hung onto the modern pentathlon, which many insiders thought might be dropped instead.

There are currently 26 core sports in the Olympic Games and the IOC decided to review all of them, which will enable them to add a new one before the year is out.

We’re talking about traditional wrestling here of course, not the pro version you get plastered on your television screens. Olympic wrestling is a combination of Greco-Roman  and freestyle competition and was introduced back in 1896 when the first modern Games were held in Athens, Greece.

The IOC said the sport was dropped because the program is being renovated and renewed for the 2020 games and it felt that the other 25 core sports were more important at this time.

Fifteen IOC members voted on secret ballots and it took several rounds of voting until they decided wrestling would be the sport dropped. Some of the other sports that came close to being left out included field hockey, taekwondo and the modern pentathlon.

There were several factors that were considered during the voting. These included things such as ticket sales for the sports as well as popularity, television ratings, global participation, and the anti-doping policy. The decision certainly took the international wrestling federation (FILA) by surprise and the organization didn’t immediately comment on the situation.

Olympic wrestling was made up of 11 different medal events in freestyle competition and seven Greco-Roman events at the London Olympics in 2012. It also involved a total of 344 wrestlers.

A women’s wrestling program was added to the Games in 2004 in Athens. Wrestling will now have to apply to the IOC to be included in the 2020 Games. There are another seven sports also hoping to be included, such as softball, baseball, squash, karate, wushu, sport climbing and roller sports. However, just one of the sports will be chosen.

The sport to be included in 2020 will be known by September of this year when the IOC votes on it. Since wrestling was just removed it’s doubtful that it will be added back so soon, unless the voting board feels it made a mistake by eliminating it in the first place.

The last sports to be voted out of the Olympic program were softball and baseball in 2005. The 2016 Games in Brazil will see the introduction of rugby and golf, which took their places.

If wrestling does make it back to the Olympics, it will likely be after the 2020 Games. However anything’s still possible at this point. Wrestlers around the world are just hoping that the IOC has a change of heart before making their final decision in September.


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