Wrestling will remain an Olympic sport after a crucial vote today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The sport received 49 out of 98 votes to beat out baseball/softball (27 votes) and squash (22 votes) and will remain in the Olympic lineup for the 2020 games, newly announced for Tokyo, Japan, and the 2024 games.
The vote brings a massive feeling of relief from the wrestling community, which was shocked earlier this year when the IOC voted to remove wrestling from the Olympics permanent lineup. The sport has sought to modernize itself in the wake of the original decision and gave an impassioned speech shortly before the final vote began around 11:20ET.
FILA President Nenad Lalovic insisted that the sports fight is not over following today announcement, stating in the post-announcement press conference:
“We have to improve our sport in order to become a core sport. Wrestling has become a modernized sport ready to compete with other sports. We succeeded to (convince) the IOC members that our improved sport will support the Olympic movement.
“Wrestling is not a new sport, but the wrestling we’re presenting now is a new wrestling. What we tried to do is update our sport to make it more spectacular, more watchable and the rules (more) understandable. That’s the only way to fulfill wrestling’s hopes, and that’s the goal of every sport.”
Wrestling gained a large amount of support from the MMA and grappling communities, many of whom had been wrestlers at some point. As has been pointed out by many outlets, the wrestlers in MMA from the 2008 Olympic games are currently undefeated in MMA. The UFC itself has seen many Olympic wrestlers signed to their roster over the years including current roster members 2004 silver medalist Sarah McMann, 2000 silver medalist Yoel Romero, MMA legend Dan Henderson, and heavyweight/light heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier.
The Olympics will now include wrestling for the 2020 and 2024 games after today’s votes, with the IOC reviewing the sports standing again sometime in the future.