Olympics: Wrestling has been dropped as a sport from the 2020 Games by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.
A meeting of the IOC’s ruling committee held today looked at a number of sports with modern pentathlon viewed as being most at risk, but the 15-strong board chose to drop wrestling.
It will now have to vie with other sports including baseball/softball, squash and karate to be added back into the programme when the full IOC session meets in September.
IOC communications director Mark Adams said: “This is not what’s wrong with wrestling, it’s what’s right about the other 25 core sports. This process is about looking to renew the Olympic Games and the executive board made their decision based on their experience.”
The executive board studied a report from the IOC’s programme commission which assessed each of the sports at last summer’s London Games.
Taekwondo was also viewed as being possibly at risk with the report looking into more than 30 separate areas, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping and global popularity.
Wrestling will be one of eight sports now who will have to campaign for inclusion when the IOC session meets in Buenos Aires in September. Baseball/softball — the last sport dropped from the programme back in 2008 — is viewed as a front runner, while squash has also been running a high-profile campaign.
The other sports pushing for inclusion are roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. Golf and rugby sevens will be part of the programme for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro after winning inclusion in 2010.
British Wrestling chief executive Colin Nicholson said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the IOC’s decision. He said: “Wrestling proved very popular in London and it has a very wide appeal right across the world. In Britain it was beginning to grow from a very small base and has the support of Sport England, who have increased their grass-roots grant.”
Nicholson took solace from the fact the wrestling is still a Commonwealth sport, adding: “In the meantime we will remain hopeful that the IOC may give wrestling another chance to remain part of the Games.”