The IOC Exec Board today in a "surprise move ... dropped wrestling from the program” for the ‘20 Olympics and opted to retain modern pentathlon, according to a source cited by Stephen Wilson of the AP. Wrestling, which had “11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman” at the '12 London Games, will now “join seven other sports in applying for inclusion” in ‘20. The others are a “combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu." The sports will be “vying for a single opening.” The IOC Exec Board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to “decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion.” The IOC program commission report “analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity” (AP, 2/12). In London, Ashling O'Connor reports the IOC Exec Board "voted in a secret ballot over a number of rounds until wrestling was eliminated." IOC President Jacques Rogge "abstained." IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams said, "It's not what's wrong with wrestling. It's what's right with the other 25 'core' sports. This was the best programme for 2020" (THETIMES.co.uk, 2/12).
GRAPPLING WITH THE DECISION: Many Twitter users spoke out against the news. Yahoo Sports' Maggie Hendricks wrote, "I am literally in tears about wrestling being dropped from the Olympics. I don't understand and am heartbroken." espnW.com's Beau Dure wrote, "That I did not expect. Still time to change course, but wow." The N.Y. Times’ Christopher Clarey wrote, "Surprised wrestling has to fight for 2020 spot but good thing about 2020 candidate sports is except for baseball, #Olympics would be summit." The Newark Star-Ledger's Steve Politi: "Drop wrestling from the Olympics? Are you out of your bribe-taking minds, IOC?" Raleigh-based WDNC-AM host Mike Maniscalco: "It's official, the people running the Olympics don't know what they are doing." The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont: "If I go to the circus, I expect to see elephants. If i go to the Olympics, I expect to see wrestlers. IOC=Five Ring Circus." PR consultant Joe Favorito: "Very disappointing decision by #IOC today to drop wrestling... Pentathlon and Dressage stay, but wrestling goes? Cmon. Out of touch again." The Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs: "Might as well just choose Olympic program based on sports' Xbox popularity." Payne Sports Media Strategies CEO & Chair Michael Payne: "Wrestling out? One of the most iconic images from ancient games & all those Greek pots. Major break with history." Yahoo Sports' Dave Brown: "Isn't wrestling (and the marathon) pretty much why we have an Olympics?" SI.com's Bryan Armen Graham: "This is a disgrace. How does the IOC remove one of the most ancient sports in the world from the Olympic program?" The Chicago Tribune's Philip Hersh: "So much for IOC's alleged standard of universality for sports: modern pentathlon had athletes from 26 countries in London; wrestling, 71. ...Wrestling not only was part of the first modern Olympics, it was a featured event in the ancient Olympics." But former USOC Exec Dir Harvey Schiller wrote, "Wrestling:few asian, African, or Latin participants. Not great TV."
WHY WRESTLING AND NOT ANOTHER SPORT? Yahoo Sports' Steve McAllister wrote, "Given the embarrassment around the badminton tanking in London,IOC could have sent a strong message by shuttlecocking them to sidelines. … Also wondered if opportunity missed to drop one of the sports that involves judging." Blogger Shawn Courchesne wrote, "Is the IOC for real? Dropping wrestling as an Olympic sport? But there will still be crap like team handball and rhythmic gymnastics? CNN/Turner Sports' Rachel Nichols: "Wrestling dropped from 2020 Olympics ... Really don't understand this. Drop wrestling but keep CANOEING? really??" The N.Y. Post's Mike Vaccaro: "So wrestling is out of the Olympics and synchronized diving stays in? I can't imagine Zeus is happy about this." The Detroit News' John Niyo: "IOC keeps modern pentathlon, axes wrestling. Dumb. Should add wrestling/baseball to pentathlon, call it modern heptathlon. Who would notice?" The National Post's Bruce Arthur: "Well, at least the IOC kept rhythmic gymnastics and dressage. Maybe those events could be modified to include wrestling." SI.com's Michael Rosenberg: "Sorry to see the IOC dump wrestling, but glad they kept essential Olympic sports like rhythmic gymnastics and bribing."