Wrestling deemed ‘additional’ sport for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
By Courtnie Martin, Sports Reporter
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will officially welcome back wrestling, after the sport was cut by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following a reported lack of interest at the previous Olympics. Following this 2013 announcement, the then-president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) Raphaël Martinetti resigned, having almost lost a confidence vote from the board. Nenad Lalovic was appointed the interim president, and was later officially elected to the position.
Now, the IOC has voted for wrestling to return to the Olympics—a decision that secured a spot for wrestling and lost spots for both baseball-softball and squash in their respective bids for the 2020 and 2024 Games.
“Wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months,” explained IOC President Jacques Rogge. “They have taken a number of steps to modernize and improve their sport.”
In an interview, Lalovic said, “We are aware of our mistakes and they will not happen again.” He continued, stating “This crisis gave us the strength to change and we finally found out that we can change. This was the most valuable experience of all of this journey.”
Many people may be wondering how archery, canoeing, and sailing are Olympic sports but wrestling got the axe. Surely only the IOC can answer this question.
As for a rumoured reason for the decision to cut wrestling in the first place, it was suggested that wrestling was not fun to watch and the rules were unclear. It also apparently too closely resembled the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)—fake street-fighters wrestling, rather than competitive sports—and seemed to be a tad sexist. After all, how many women wrestlers do you know of, and how many of them aren’t dressed in bra and panties?
In the end, though, this controversy raised some concerns and opened the door to change in the wrestling world. FILA have adjusted the weight classes so that women can contend, adding two women’s weight classes. They have also made changes to the rules so that the sport is clearer and more entertaining to the audience, and the wrestlers are more tactical and aggressive.
It was very clear the IOC was eager to fix their original decision. Wrestling beat out baseball-softball by a whopping 49 to 24 vote in the first round. Although baseball-softball fans are crushed by the news, the IOC and wrestling world could not be happier; wrestling has been an Olympic sport original since the early 1900s. Wrestling was added back in as an “additional” sport,, as opposed to one of the 25 “core” sports—but at least it was guaranteed a spot in both the 2020 and 2024 Olympics. As for the worlds of baseball-softball and squash, better luck next time!