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IOC axes wrestling

IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the program for 2020 Olympics on Tuesday, an official familiar with the decision said. In a surprise move, IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon, the sport considered most at risk, and remove wrestling instead, the official said.

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic programme. Eliminating one sport allows IOC to add a new sport to the program later this year. Wrestling combines freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines. It had 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year’s London Olympics. Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

IOC executive board will meet in May in St Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires. The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by IOC in 2005 and off the programme since 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will join the program me at 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

Previously considered under the closest scrutiny was modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since 1912 Stockholm Games. It was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.Modern pentathlon combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting, the five skills required of a 19th century cavalry officer. The sport’s governing body UIPM has been lobbying hard to protect its Olympic status.


The news of IOC dropping wrestling as a medal sport from 2020 Olympic Games has come as a shock to two of India’s biggest grapplers. While Sushil Kumar, India’s only double individual Olympic medallist, called it was a ‘Black Day’ for wrestling, London Games bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt can’t see any logic behind IOC’s sudden move. They jointly share the fear that the move will halt the rising profile of wrestling in India.

In a sudden development on Tuesday, IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) executive board in its meeting at Lausanne, Switzerland, decided to remove wrestling from 2020 Olympics. The replacement sport will be announced in May. Other sports which were on the hit list but survived the axe include badminton, taekwondo and modern pentathlon.

‘I don’t see any reason why IOC decided to drop wrestling from 2020 Olympic programme. I am still finding it difficult to come to terms with the news,’ said Sushil, who won silver in London last year, adding, ‘It is a huge setback for the sport. It came as a complete shocker. I can’t believe that IOC took such a harsh decision about one of the oldest sports in the Olympics.’ The Beijing Games bronze medallist also said the sport will only go down from here. ‘Wrestling was looking up in India. It had a bright future. Lot of youngsters were taking up the sport, especially after our success at London Games. But now the blow will take the sport backward in India,’ said Sushil.

Sushil’s childhood friend and London Olympics bronze medallist, Yogeshwar Dutt said the decision would be a ‘big setback’ for the upcoming crop of wrestlers. ‘I am extremely disappointed to hear the news. Wrestling has made India a force to reckon with in the Olympic arena and the IOC has dropped a worldwide famous sport from its list. It’s a shocking news to me,’ said Dutt.

‘What about the upcoming wrestlers? What about their future? Sushil won medals in Beijing and London and I won it in London too. We are targeting the 2016 Rio Olympics but there are other young wrestlers who are preparing for the next edition. What about them?’ added Dutt.
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