Today: Jun 16, 2024

Olympic wrestling no more?

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Robin Glynn – General Assignment Reporter

What has to be the biggest body slam, the International Olympic Committee announced that, starting with the 2020 Olympics, wrestling might no longer be part of the games.

Wrestling is as old as the Olympics themselves. The sport goes back to the ancient Greek games and it’s been a part of the Olympics since 1896. Wrestling will still be a part of the 2016 games; a final vote about eliminating the sport out of the games is expected in September of 2013.

The move has stunned wrestlers and sports fans all over the world. Former Olympic wrestlers who have transitioned to professional wrestling organizations, such as the WWE and TNA, have vented their frustrations on the decisions.

“We’re going to fight this. They can’t just drop it,” said Kurt Angle, TNA wrestler and gold medalist for the 1996 games, said. “They’re keeping badminton and that sport where you jump on a trampoline, and they’re dropping wrestling. It’s just crazy. I don’t know what this world is coming to. Things are changing.”

The executive board of the IOC reviewed the 26 sports in its summer program to remove one of them in order to add one later this year. The IOC voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission which analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. There was no official rankings or recommendations in the report.

“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “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.”

According to the Associated Press, the IOC documents ranked wrestling “low” in several of the technical criteria, including popularity with the public at the London Games; just below five on a scale of 10. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.

Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the United States Olympic Committee, said he was surprised by the IOC’s decision given the “history and tradition of wrestling, and its popularity and universality.”

“It is important to remember that today’s action is a recommendation,” Blackmun said in a statement, “and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world. In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes.”

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The IOC wants to change events to reach a younger audience and keep events that are TV-worthy and not based on athletic interest or tied to the ancient games.

The sport has given memorable moments throughout its history with the Olympics, such as American collegian Dan Gable, who won his weight class at the 1972 games in Munich without giving up a point, and Rulon Gardner, another American beating Russian heavyweight Alexander Karelin in the 2000 games in Sydney.

Wrestling will join seven other sports to apply for the 2020 games, but it seems unlikely that it would be voted back in soon after being removed by the board.

The other sports vying for a single opening in 2020 are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu; a martial art.

With wrestling possibly being taken away, viewers will have to watch the traditional sports; track and field, swimming, soccer and gymnastics. Viewers can also watch so-called “sports” including synchronized swimming, horse jumping and dressage, or what I like to call horse dancing.

When I think of the Olympics, I think of track and field, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling. Even though they are part of the Olympics, I never think of table tennis or dressage as sports.

Wrestling, being one of the earliest sports in the games, should be around because of how athletic it is. It is a popular sport and in some countries it is a national sport.

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