IOC leaders have dropped wrestling for the 2020 Games in a surprise decision to scrap one of the oldest sports on the Olympic program.
Wrestling, part of the first modern Olympics and a U.S. strength, was shockingly cut from the Summer Games on Tuesday, beginning in 2020.
The International Olympic Committee was expected to cut the sport of modern pentathlon but instead decided to remove wrestling based on criteria such as global participation and popularity.
“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.”
FILA, the international federation for wrestling, said in a statement that it was “greatly astonished” by the IOC executive board’s recommendation. FILA said it would work to convince the IOC “of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games.”
The international federation said wrestling is represented in 180 countries, “with wrestling being the national sport in a fair amount of them and the only possibility for athletes to represent their country at the Olympic Games, thus contributing to their universality.”
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The loss of wrestling is a huge blow to the U.S., one of the most successful countries in Olympic wrestling, winning 124 medals. The U.S had two gold medalists at last summer’s London Games: Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner. Coleman Scott added bronze along with Clarissa Chun in women’s freestyle. U.S. women have won four medals since women’s wrestling was added to the 2004 Athens Games.
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