One of the oldest Olympic Games, wrestling, will be axed from the 2020 Games. This decision was taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ancient combat sport was one of the events in the original Games in ancient Greece, and was one of the nine sports included when the Games were resurrected in 1896.But the IOC's executive board has decided that what is now a very niche sport should no longer be in the line-up of sports when the 2020 Games are contested in Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo.
The Games have long been limited to 26 sports in order to keep the scale of the event from running out of control. The list of sports is reviewed after each Games, with factors such as TV ratings, ticket sales and global popularity taken into account, and the IOC’s vote came after the 2012 report recommended that wrestling should be dropped. Modern pentathlon and Taekwondo had also been thought to be at risk, but survived the cull.
There is a possible way back for wrestling, however: the sport has been added to the list of hopefuls which will lobby for Olympic inclusion from 2020, alongside baseball, softball, squash, karate, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and roller sports.
The board will meet again in St Petersburg in May to decide which of those sports should be considered for the single vacant spot, with the full session of the IOC to make the final choice at a meeting in Buenos Aires in September. 2020's host city will be decided at that same session.
Wrestling had 344 athletes in total at the London Olympics, competing in greco-roman and freestyle disciplines. Olympic exclusion will be a major blow to the sports popularity and financial stability as the Games are a global platform for the promotion of smaller, less established sports.
It is a shame that the IOC took such a decision, disallowing the continuation of an ancient sport, altering an Olympic tradition in order to sell more tickets. The IOC should respect these ancient traditions and games. Without any respect for the original sports, the Olympics will alter, introducing new and foreign games, alien to the spirit and the norm of the Olympics.