In a move that has already sent shockwaves through the sporting community, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has excluded wrestling from its list of 25 sports it will propose for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Rather than automatically being included in the games, as it has every modern Olympiad since 1896, the sport will now join seven others on a short-list for consideration as an additional sport in the 2020 edition.

After a review of the 26 core sports, the EB voted on the potential removal of wrestling, modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey before settling on wrestling as the odd sport out, according to the Associated Press. The board’s vote followed an IOC report that analyzed 39 criteria for each sport, including ticket sales, TV ratings and global participation.

“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,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams, according to the AP.

The move immediately elicited a strong reaction from the MMA world, which features a number of fighters who began as elite wrestlers. Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren competed as a freestyle wrestler in the 2008 Summer Olympics, and former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier placed fourth in his division during the 2004 games, but there are far more athletes who do not transition to MMA after the Olympics. During the 2012 London Olympics alone, 344 athletes competed in wrestling for a total of 18 medal events between Greco-Roman and freestyle variations.

Wrestling’s last hope for inclusion in 2020 lies in the hands of the EB, which will again vote whether to include it as an additional sport at its general assembly in September.

Photo: Henry Cejudo (The Open Mat)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.

  • Robby Collins

    Ridiculous, wrestling should be one of the core THREE sports, not core 25+. I’d say this is a step in the wrong direction, except that I’m of the opinion MMA and combat sports don’t need the Olympics. Fighting is in our nature and as more people realize this, the more popular it will become.

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