Wrestling has been eliminated from the 2020 Olympics after a vote by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.
Hope remains that one of the world’s most popular events will be included in the 26-sport summer games that will be played in Istanbul, Turkey; Tokyo, Japan; or Madrid, Spain.
Wrestling, which goes back to 1896, the first modern Olympic games in Athens, Greece, now joins baseball, softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu which will compete for one spot to be included in the 2020 games. The ICO executive board will meet again in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which of the seven sports to include with a final vote to be made during the IOC session or general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Olympic silver medalist and Anoka Hall of Fame member Brandon Paulson said his initial reaction was one of surprise.
“Nobody had a clue about it and certainly leadership in wrestling didn’t have a clue either,” he said. “It sickens me and it’s not over yet from what I’ve read this morning.”
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a statement to the Associated Press: “This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics. In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games of 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
Paulson added that the popularity of the sport is huge, despite poorer television ratings. “The support wrestling has in Europe, Russia and Asia is great. Other sports did a better job politicking,” he said. “Wrestling might not get the TV ratings but tickets always sell out and more countries participate in it than any other sport.”
The decision came about after several rounds of secret ballots and IOC President Jaques Rogge didn’t vote. While voting details weren’t made public, the AP said modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey were believed to be among the final events kept in what’s called the core 25 sports.
Voters looked at 39 different areas including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity.
Baseball and softball were eliminated ahead of the 2008 Beijing Games while golf and rugby will be added to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Jason Olson is at [email protected]