It was announced today, in Buenos Aries, Brazil, that after a meeting of and secret ballot by, International Olympic Committee members, that the IOC has sanctioned wresting as a sport for the 2020 games, in Tokyo.
On the brink of banishment as a sport in the Olympics, the wrestling community, along with their brothers-in-arms in mixed martial arts, militated online via social media to have the IOC reverse itself and save the sport. As it turns out, the agitation seems to have worked.
Carrying 49 votes in majority decision, IOC members have sided with wrestling’s advocates and have given the sport the final available slot for the Tokyo games.
The sport was originally dropped as a “core sport” in February of this year, but in doing so, the committee raised the ire and action of the sport’s enthusiasts, worldwide. In the ensuing months, many notable and high profile wrestlers, fighters such as Chael Sonnen and former Olympians Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson, seized the opportunities made available to them either on TV or online, and publicly criticized wrestling’s deletion from the games and began advocating for its return.
In May and in wake of the backlash from wrestling’s fans and its supporters, the IOC issued wrestling a reprieve of sorts when they bound it together with the sports of baseball, softball and squash, for a winner take-all (September) IOC placement vote, for the final available 2020 slot.
In reaction to the vote, International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) President Nenad Lalovic, seemed to be reticent to call it a victory and acknowledged that there was still work to be done, if supporters of sport wanted to see wrestling reconfirmed as a core sport.
In comment, Lalovic stated:
“Our fight doesn’t stop here. 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.”
For my two-cent’s worth, I think dropping wrestling from the Olympics is / was a foolish move and only serves to diminish the games. As MMA is on the rise across the world and wrestling is one of its cornerstones, if not the very cornerstone itself, it seems rather short-sited of the IOC to have ever considered dropping it, in the first place.