Wrestling Wins Back Olympic Place for 2020 Olympics

September 8, 2013

Wrestling has won back its place back on the Olympic Programme, the International Olympic Committee has announced beginning with the 2020 games.

After a seven month exile, Wrestling beat off stiff competition from Baseball/Softball and Squash but prevailed with a majority vote of 49 votes while Baseball/Softball received 24 votes and Squash received 22 at the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires.

In its presentation, wrestling was quick to stake its position as a sport of the future, not the ancient past. “Wrestling is new in virtually every way,” said Jim Scherr, a former wrestler and ex-CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

After wrestling was unexpectedly axed from the program in February, the international governing body ( FILA) made significant changes. It elected a new president, included more women in decision-making roles and adopted rule changes to make the sport easier to understand.

International Wrestling Federation (FILA) President Nenad Lalovic, who presented Wrestling’s case at the session, said: “With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference. 

“I assure each of you that our modernisation will not stop now.”

Big Blow for Baseball/Softball

For softball, it was a particularly crushing blow. Baseball has top pro leagues around the world, the World Series, the World Baseball Classic. Softball had the Olympics.

USA Baseball CEO Paul Seiler said: “While we are obviously disappointed with the decision of the International Olympic Committee to not move forward with baseball and softball for inclusion on the Olympic program in 2020, we continue to believe the combined efforts of baseball and softball provide a great platform for international competition and we look forward to continuing our joint efforts of growing baseball and softball worldwide.

Squash Still looking for First Games

Squash also presented a solid case for inclusion for their first Games. In his opening comments, World Squash Federation president Narayana Ramachandran threw down the gauntlet: “Squash is a sport that represents the future and not the past,” he said, a swipe at wrestling.

Squash seemingly offered everything the IOC looks for, including global and gender inclusion and entertainment value. It’s played in 185 countries and most of the world’s best players hail from countries that rarely medal in the Olympics.

World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran said: “Today’s decision is heart-breaking for the millions of Squash players around the world, particularly given the 10 year journey we have been on to join the Olympic Games Sports Programme.  As the only new Olympic sport on today’s shortlist, we believed Squash offered something for the future and I still hope that our inclusion may still be possible.

“The feedback we have received from many IOC members for our campaign and our presentation has been very positive and I am encouraged by the vote we received today. We have much to offer the Olympic Movement and I am hopeful that today is not the end of our Olympic journey.”

{jcomments on}