Efforts to save Olympic wrestling are paying off. However, the fight is not over. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today following a vote in St. Petersburg, Russia that wrestling was in a group of three sports selected as candidates for the final provisional sport spot in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.
The other sports on the short list of candidates include squash and baseball/softball.
A final vote will be held by the entire 100-member IOC General Assembly in its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September. Only one of these sports — wrestling, squash or baseball/softball — will be included in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
Sports not selected to advance to the final vote in Buenos Aires include karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
FILA President Nenad Lalovic commented on this step forward to save Olympic wrestling:
“While our place in the Olympic Games is still not guaranteed, this decision recognizes the great lengths to which we are going to reform our sport and address the IOC’s concerns. At FILA’s recent Extraordinary Congress we enacted a number of rule and governance changes and we hope that our continued efforts will ensure we are successful at the final vote in September. We recognize that there is still a long road ahead but we will continue to work to preserve our place in the Olympic Games.”
[box type=”shadow” ]Here is a statement from the International Olympic Committee regarding their decision:
The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today recommended that baseball/softball, squash and wrestling be proposed to the 125th IOC Session for possible inclusion as an additional sport on the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The EB selected the three sports by secret ballot from a shortlist of eight that also included karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. The vote followed 30-minute presentations by each International Federation and an extensive evaluation by the Olympic Programme Commission to determine their potential added value to the Games.
The full IOC membership will meet for the 125th Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7 to 10 September and will vote on which of the three sports to add to the programme of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in addition to the 25 core sports – plus golf and rugby sevens* – proposed by the EB in February.
“The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the Board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires. I wish the three shortlisted sports the best of luck in the run-up to the vote in September and would like to thank the other sports for their hard work and dedication.”
In an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games. The Commission uses 39 criteria in determining a sport’s suitability for the Olympic Games, including youth appeal, universality, popularity, good governance, respect for athletes and respect for the Olympic values.[/box]
The IOC made the announcement that wrestling was in danger of being removed from the Olympic games back in February. The MMA world was aghast at the news as so many fighters come from a wrestling background, and high level wrestlers, including Olympians, often transition very well into MMA. MMA gives wrestlers a viable career opportunity following their collegiate and Olympic careers.
Stay up to date with all things wrestling and the grass roots efforts to Save Olympic Wrestling by following sites such as TheMat.com, KeepWrestlingInTheOlympics.com, FILA-Official.com and Save Olympic Wrestling on Facebook.