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Wrestling removed from 2020 Olympic Games

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 01:02

Wrestling, one of the oldest sports in history, was removed from the 2020 Olympics on Tuesday after a
surprising decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

This isn’t  the wrestling that includes mediocre acting, steel chairs and cages.

This is the sport that combines both freestyle and Greco-Roman events.

Next to track, wrestling is the oldest sport in modern Olympic history, dating back to the 1896 Olympics in
Athens, a fitting place for the sport’s Olympic debut. The sport itself dates back to 400B.C.

So why get rid of it?

The IOC cast secret ballots among 15 members, and based on ticket sales, television ratings and global participation, decided to pull the plug on the event. The decision also makes room to include a new sport such as baseball, wakeboarding or squash — all sports that plan to fight their way into the 2020 games.

While the governing body of wrestling, the International
Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), is still fighting for the survival of wrestling in the Olympics, the IOC doesn’t see wrestling making a comeback anytime soon.

This surprise decision has caused the wrestling community to grow outraged — and with good reason.

Wrestling was part of a final group of Olympic sports that were on the verge of being removed, such as field hockey and taekwondo.

The fact that wrestling is no longer a sport at the Olympic level, but curling, which can viewed as
glorified sweeping, remains, severely diminishes the
respectability of the Olympics.

Josh Gluck, a senior majoring in psychology at USF wrestled for three years in high school and said the decision by the IOC left him puzzled.

“When I found out it was eliminated I thought ‘How can these other sports stand up to wrestling?’” Gluck said.  

Gluck wasn’t the only one.

Wrestling isn’t just old — it’s ancient.

It’s been detailed in Greek, Hindu and Mesopotamian
mythology,  and has been etched in the tombs of ancient Egyptians.

Baseball, America’s favorite pastime, can’t claim that. Even soccer, which is recognized as the world’s most popular sport, can’t stand against the history that
wrestling has behind it.

The Olympics is the world’s biggest event, bringing together nations all over the world. It lives off tradition, and it just lost its oldest one.

But will this hurt television ratings? According to statistics that the IOC gathered and cannot reveal, probably not, they say. In last year’s London
Olympics, wrestling had 344 athletes compete in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in
Greco-Roman, but did anyone hear of the events?

If you watched the Olympics last year, you would think you were watching a swimming/gymnastics marathon with weightlifting and volleyball sprinkled in.

But wrestling was barely given any television coverage, and no ads whatsoever.

With television ratings and ticket sales being a factor in the removal of an Olympic sport, one would think the lack of promotion would be taken into consideration.

“If next year people are complaining about wanting to see wrestling, maybe they’ll listen to their audience,” Gluck said.

“Maybe they’ll pay attention to the audience’s response, and not just what ratings say.”

The removal doesn’t just affect Olympic athletes either.

Wrestling, like football, baseball and soccer, gets participation for children as young as seven
years-old.

It’s a sport that demands high school students to lose up to 20 pounds or more in a week for a one to two-day tournament.

Maybe if the student is lucky enough, he or she will be offered a spot at the collegiate level.

And the pinnacle of it all — the Olympics.

This decision can very well impact the participation of high school and collegiate athletes, which could ultimately eliminate the sport all together.


Compared to newer sports in the Olympic games, wrestling is the old man shaking his fist at the younger generation, demanding respect.


But facing extinction from the sporting world, it isn’t going down without a fight. Petitions are being made and tweets are being tweeted, but only time will tell where the ancient sport will end up in the future.     
 

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