The International Olympic Committee (IOC) levied a shocking decision today as they opted to remove wrestling from the list of 25 core sports. The decision was a huge surprise, as most believed the modern pentathlon would be the sport on the chopping block. In cutting wrestling, the IOC removes a sport that has been a part of the games since their modern inception at the 1896 Olmpyics.
The committee reportedly considered various factors in the decision to cut wrestling, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation, and popularity. The IOC vote was done in secret, with no rankings revealed after the vote. Modern pentathlon (which combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running, and shooting) was considered most likely to be cut, however the committee was lobbied hard to keep the event by members of their own board.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams stated:
“In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
This is the point where things cause wrestlers’ heads start to explode. Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1896 and was represented by 71 nations at the London games. Some of the sports kept instead of wrestling include events like table tennis, trampoline, race walking, the aforementioned pentathlon, dressage and rhythmic gymnastics. While the athletes deserve the chance to represent their country, what makes the sports more deserving than one of the oldest sports on the planet?
I will admit that I am biased in this argument. Growing up in Atlanta, I was lucky enough to see the 1996 Olympic Games and see some wrestling, I was completely mesmerized by seeing guys like Buvasair Saitiev (arguably the greatest of all time), Alexander Karelin (pictured), Tom Brands, Bruce Baumgartner, Kendall Cross, and Kurt Angle. While it took a few more years, I ended up wrestling in high school and at the junior college level, competed in USA Wrestling events in all three styles, and I am a coach as well. Even when I was training in MMA and learning other styles, wrestling was always the basis of everything I did. (Continued on page 2)