IOC Drops Wrestling As Olympic Sport

300px-Pankratiasten_in_fight_copy_of_greek_statue_3_century_bCThe International Olympic Committee shocked many today by announcing that it is dropping wrestling as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Games. Instead, they will add golf. That’s right, they are dropping one of the original Olympic sports that go back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 and one of the few sports traced back to ancient Greece. However, we will keep synchronized swimming and Rhythmic Gymnastic routines with ribbons and hoops.

The IOC is known to most people for its long history of corruption and excess. However, it will occasionally take a break from self-dealing to undermine its institution. The sport of wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year’s London Olympics. It also was one of the unbroken links to the origins of the Olympics and one of the most impressive physically demanding sports. It will now be replaced by golf? The decision seems overly cynical and opportunistic. There is more money in golf and viewers around the world. Yet, wrestling is a sport that is part of school programs around the world — programs which will be adversely affected by this decision.

The selection of golf shows the continuing control of money over the IOC members. Golf is supported by major companies willing to spend a lot in wooing IOC members. Notably, the IOC looks at television ratings and ticket sales to make its decision as well as global participation. However, this is not just another sport but one of the classic competition of the Olympics. Tradition should mean something to the IOC. It is bad enough that dance routines on the gymnastic floor and synchronized swimming is making the Olympic look increasingly like a Vegas act. Why not cut dubious competitions like shooting which require a fraction of the physical ability of wrestling? I am not a wrestling fan, but I do love history and believe that some traditions lend authenticity of an event like the Olympics.

The IOC has demonstrated with this decision that it is continuing to shed its sports orientation in favor of a business model. If the rating and sponsors were good enough, the IOC would make a chorus line an Olympic sport (which is already close to reality with Rhythmic Gymnastics). I have long been a critic of the IOC which seems to fulfill and surpass the worst expectations of many of us each and every year. However, this decision has set a new low for the IOC.


Source: Fox

52 thoughts on “IOC Drops Wrestling As Olympic Sport

  1. “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.”

    What in the world is ‘sport climbing’?

  2. Time to bring back another Greek tradition: Ostracise the IOC

    Giving up Greco-Roman wrestling for Golf, what a sham. What’s next the Javelin goes so that Poker can have air time.

  3. Add that to the list of things not to watch — except it was already on the list. Tonight’s garbagepalooza starring Barry the Great is sometimes on the list; but the possibility of it turning into a satire creates an occasional attraction.

  4. This is simply incredible. I am for including aerobatics being included since it really does require physical conditioning, and stamina, but since it is motorized, I can see the point in not including it. How golf got into this is beyond me since it places no physical demands upon the contestants. As one person defined it, golf is a good walk spoiled.

  5. Wrestling is an extremely rigorous physically challenging sport.
    There are a myriad of techniques to learn. Speed awareness strength strategy coordination are necessary skills to rise to the highest level.
    Wrestling is a true olympic sport, as valid as track and field.

    Too bad it’s boring. Mr. Turley you are spot on.

    Market forces own the olympics now.

  6. Wrestling is indeed physically demanding. I once studied Krav Maga, a martial art. After 18 months they started a ground fighting (AKA wrestling) class. We were all in excellent shape. The instructor, an LAPD officer who trained other cops, started the first class by telling us pair off. One person gets on the floor on his back, with the other on top of him, then tries for 60 seconds to get him off. Then switch off. At the end of this, when we were all lying on the room wheezing, he made his point without saying a word. Ground fighting is way more strenuous than regular martial arts and even boxing.

    And the Olympics is going to replace this real sport, one with a tradition going back to the first Olympics, with golf?

  7. I’m not a huge Olympics fan, but wrestling was one of the events I would watch. Golf? Golf sucks. It’s people playing fetch without a dog. I have it on good authority that the game (and it is a game, not a sport) was invented by Scottish cats as a joke.

    Some jokes just go too far.

  8. Bob Morris,

    “Ground fighting is way more strenuous than regular martial arts and even boxing.”

    Mostly true unless you count MA like Tae Kwan Do or kickboxing where there is a huge concentration on outside leg work. A lot of high kicks will wear a body out, especially for the folks with larger legs. I used to train at a dojo where a lot of kickboxers did and a couple of them were body builders with huge legs. They were usually good for about 8-12 good above the waist kicks before they started tiring. The ones with skinnier legs generally had much more stamina.

  9. Ridiculous decision, indeed. And I’m right with you on the ribbon dancing and water dancing too, JT! The Games are becoming a joke.

  10. I have no interest in wrestling, Olympic or otherwise. On the other hand, I’m an avid golf and love the sport. However, I have issues with both IOC decisions. Where I’m happy golf will be included in the Olympics to further the expansion of the sport, as with Olympic basketball, it bothers me that Olympic golf will essentially be a PGA/European Tour event of highly paid professionals rather than college and other amateurs. And to do this at the expense of one of the original Olympic events makes both decisions seem tainted by the stench of pure greed over sport. I know some countries subsidize their “amatuer” Olympic athletes, but very few can actually compete with the professionals in any sport. An exception used to be Cuban baseball, but even they no longer dominate their sport and are now ranked simply as good amateurs not up to MLB level.

  11. How about killing off boxing? Wrestling, the original Olympic sport, should be kept, and it doesn’t leave its athletes brain damaged.

  12. Lots of training and skill required for both wrestling and golf. I’m not an olympics fan but occasionally watch the gymnastics or the ice skating, just a few individuals, not the entire deal. I agree those who see the decision as a poor one, a chase after money. Are they having money problems or just greed?

  13. SwM,

    Does that mean they have to build a rock mountain?

    (BTW … interesting article in the NYTimes today regarding the slowdown in healthcare cost that has erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. This slowdown has been occurring over the last several years and could indicate a boon to the economy. Time will tell but the doctors I hang with are taking credit and cite a change in healthcare policy resulting in fewer needless tests.)

  14. mr.ed wrote: “How about killing off boxing? Wrestling, the original Olympic sport, should be kept, and it doesn’t leave its athletes brain damaged.”

    Actually, boxing was also an ancient Olympic sport. According to one source it was added to the Olympics in 688 B.C. But if the modern Olympics is going to severe one of its links to the ancient Olympics, I’d rather see boxing cut than wrestling.

  15. Probably not a chance of them bringing back the arena/coliseum for the lions and losers…..

    Do you think next we can have baton twirling and hula hoops…..

    At least we could have the beginnings of circus, circus…..

  16. Blouise, They do have indoor climbing with artificial rock structures. When my son moved to Colorado, he took up rock climbing. We still have the Times delivered. I will check it out.

  17. Should the Olympic logo be changed – minus one ring? Wrestling is harder than most sports (including football) but with minimal injuries since the proximity is closer. Example: You don’t run from 30 feet away and crash into your opponent.

  18. Ten years from now they’ll probably hold the Olympics in Vegas and allow the entertainers (because they won’t be athletes any more) to wear advertising regalia because the teams will be from companies not countries. “And now, Team Facebook faces Citibank in the grueling Speed Twittering competition.”

  19. Bob Morris

    I’ve had that same sad vision of the Olympics of the future. I can hear the opening parade ceremony now: “Here comes Team USA, brought to you by Sprite, a division of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. (NYSE: KO)”.

  20. Wow. Not a personal fan of wrestling, but many of our rugby players do well in wrestling so I understand what they put into their training.

    I have not paid any real attention to the Olympics since they allowed professionals to compete, rather than keeping it a showcase for amatures. (that will change in 2016 since rugby will be back, although in 7’s format rather than 15’s -sigh)

    I agree with JT that it is ridiculous that something like wrestling would be removed from the Olympics before garbage like rhythmic gymnastics. Golf should not be in the Olympics.

  21. If the ioc made it mud wrestling it would top the charts. I’m an avid golfer and don’t need it made an olympic sport. Gave up on the olympics when they let the pros play basket ball.

  22. I agree with Bruce and I stopped watching when they let the pros play basketball. Next they will find something for the Kardasians. Innocuous Octagenarian Canavores. IOC.

  23. I think it’s outrageous that a sport like wrestling is being removed and that sports that almost no one participates in, like Modern Pentathlon, remain. I also agree that money drives a lot of this, but there’s also a lot of good ole boy connections within the IOC and little transparency. I can only assume that wrestling did not have the right connections within the IOC.

    One nit to pick, however. Golf is joining the Olympics in 2016. Wrestling is getting kicked out in 2020. Wrestling is not being removed to make room for golf. Some other sport is going to be added for 2020 to take wrestling’s place.

  24. The IOC are whores who are in it for the money and their history is marked with bigotry. The Cities that hold them usually lose moey on the deal. While they market it as an historic event, the truth is it is becoming less ad less grounded in its original history. Olympic wrestling is sometimes called “Greco-Roma” because it is a sport that dates back thousands of years. I am not a fa of it, but feel that it belongs if the “Games” are to have legitimacy. I believe that the inclusion of any team sports in the games is absurd and their inclusion reflects greed more tha anything else. Also including teams creates jingoistic rooting, which purportedly is not what the games are about. As for golf this is a blatant attempt to increase nothing else. While I do believe that golf is a sport there are already plenty of venues where excellance is rewarded. I wrote this piece below last year decrying what the media has transformed the Olympics into symbolizing:

    However, if you write Olympics into this blogs search function, you will find that JT has written many blogs delving into the Olympics illusion.

  25. In a follow-up announcement, the IOC has decided to drop the marathon in favor of pole dancing, a move thought to help ratings w/ 14-85 aged males. There is also a motion from IOC member, Walter Sobchak, to have bowling replace swimming. That has been taken under advisement.

  26. I find this particularly weird considering the vast interest in MMA, which is mostly submission fighting on the ground these days. Clearly there should be an audience for wrestling. Part of wrestling’s problem is that you never see it on TV to begin with. It can’t get good ratings if it’s not televised.

    And really, I’ve never understood why people watch golf. I mean… What is there to watch?

  27. Jude: I agree. And I also wonder why they can’t manage to get MMA in the Olympics, given that you could tie it in to the original Olympic sport of Pankration (not to mention its popularity).

  28. People wonder why I don’t watch the olympics, despite more and more stories like this. Everyone is dirty, every single one of them, whether by drugs or money. And the IOC is not the slightest bit interested in catching drug cheats, only in appearing to try.

  29. Robin Williams is sooooo funny. Pick a subject. Thanks, pete, for brightening my day with that video. If only the Olympics could be so entertaining.

  30. My former mother-in-law was from Scotland. She was here long enough that by careful listening I could understand her, but after her brother came for a visit from Scotland I couldn’t understand much of anything she said. She and her brother and her children (all adults) would laugh uproariously at one joke after another. I laughed too but didn’t have a clue.

  31. Who would win the medal, the golfer or the caddy who always seems (to me a non golf player) to be the one calling the shots.

  32. For me, in the 1970s, being an Olympic long-distance runner was one of my main goals. I think I was the official Emil Zatopek fan in North Dallas. I’d even occasionally run in hiking boots so I could be more like him. I’m also waiting for the IOC to re-instate the standing broad jump–another sport in which I excelled (in my mind).

  33. I am willing to bet everyone here complaining that wrestling is being pulled by the IOC hasn’t paid to see one collegiate wrestling match in a decade. That’s about the only place you can find it.

    Most people think wrestling is the WWE variety. It says something about a sport when its most popular version is a parody of itself.

  34. And you’d be wrong, Mark. I’ve been to more than one collegiate (and high school) wrestling in the last decade. But don’t get me started on WWE “professional” wrestling. It’s just wrong on many levels. Those guys are athletes, I’ll give them that, but they aren’t wrestlers. They are stunt men. If you really did some of the things they pretend to do, you’d have a massive and very real body count for that faux-sport.

  35. U.S. Wrestlers Blindsided by Olympic Ouster

    February 13, 2013

    “According to former Olympic champion and current Iowa coach Tom Brands, the international wrestling community needs to band together and fight for the sport’s Olympic future.

    “You have to get people behind you, you have to do it smart,” he said. “You have to do it educated, you have to do it professionally, and you have to do it with some muscle, as well.”

    The decision by the IOC to phase out wrestling will leave the U.S. without one of its most successful Olympic sports. The only sports in which the Americans have won more medals than wrestling is swimming and track and field — and those two have far more medal opportunities.

    Americans have won a record 113 freestyle Olympic medals, by far the most of any nation. Though the U.S. had slipped in recent Olympic cycles, it bounced back with a pair of London Games gold medalists in Jordan Burroughs — possibly the best wrestler in the world — and Jake Varner.

    Wrestling is also one of the most popular youth sports in the U.S. The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that the sport was sixth among prep boys with nearly 275,000 competing in 2010-11.

    “It just made me sick to think that the opportunity for 14, 15, 16-year-old kids who have thoughts about being an Olympic champion is erased,” Oklahoma State coach and two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith said. “I was on the phone a lot (Tuesday) with not just people in this country, but all over the world. We’re all ready to stand together.”

    Reaction to the move was swift on social media. A Facebook page titled ‘Keep Wrestling in the Olympics” was started Tuesday morning and had nearly 34,000 likes by the end of the day. A number of fellow Olympians also displayed their displeasure over the decision on Twitter by using the hashtag (hash)SaveOlympicWrestling.

  36. Dan Gable vows to fight Olympic decision to drop wrestling

    Memo to the International Olympic Committee on the heels of a preliminary vote to drop wrestling at the 2020 Olympics: You’ve got a fight on your hands.

    Dan Gable, arguably the most iconic American name in the sport, vowed to work at changing the decision before a final vote in September.

    “The thing is, because of wrestling, I have a mindset that is strong. Exceptionally strong,” Gable said today. “I don’t believe in the four-letter word ‘quit.’ I don’t believe in the four-letter word ‘can’t.’

    “Right now, I’m not going to change because I see an initial vote. I’m not going to quit. I’m going to fight.”

    The IOC entered a vote to trim one sport from the current list of 26.

    Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the voting details were not made public.

    The final vote will occur at the IOC’s general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Mark Adams, IOC spokesperson said “today’s decision is not final” — though reversing course so soon would be considered an upset by many who know the organization.

    Gable, a national champion at Iowa State and record-setting coach at Iowa, recorded one of the most dominant Olympic performances in history — regardless of sport — when he won a freestyle wrestling gold medal in 1972, without surrendering a single point.

    “They said usually when it gets voted, they don’t come back and reverse it,” he said, “but it’s not over yet.”

    Wrestling is among the oldest sports offered at the Olympics. It was part of the ancient games, and was contested at the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece.

    “It’s not like you have a sport like baseball, that has a pro baseball league that’s outstanding — so kids can dream of going places beyond the educational system,” Gable said. “So that kind of eliminates the high end for us. You continue to have world championships, but it’s tainted big-time if you don’t have the Olympics behind your sport.

    “Obviously, you’re not done, though, and you keep fighting.”

  37. “I am willing to bet everyone here complaining that wrestling is being pulled by the IOC hasn’t paid to see one collegiate wrestling match in a decade.”


    you miss the point. I personally hate this kind of wrestling and that hatred began in High School, where for a month each year that’s all we did in gym class. My gym teacher, who hated me, used to put me up against people who outweighed me by 50 to 75 pounds and I usually got pinned in under 30 seconds. I would never pay to watch Greco-Roman wrestling but I would watch it on TV since I’d be watching people who were at the top of their sport.
    My objection to removing it is simply that it is a traditional Olympic Sport, just as the javelin throw, for instance. The excitement I feel watching sport comes from seeing people with great skills compete.

    Now it’s I also watch golf on TV, but I wouldn’t as an Olympic sport, because it isn’t.

  38. I find it interesting that they used ticket sales as guideline.

    Because of the assinine ticket contracts with various vendors in each country, you could be a US citizen like me, in London during the Olympics, but could not purcashe a ticket.

  39. SwM,

    My Senator, Sherrod Brown, is making an effort:

    “I’m not against some of the other sports that the IOC decided to keep, but I want to ensure that no one tries to squeeze middle-class kids out of a chance to compete on the international stage—especially in a sport that was part of the original Olympics and is the third-most successful sport for the U.S. in the Summer Games.

    That’s why I recently introduced a Senate Resolution opposing the elimination of wrestling from the Olympics. My former colleague, and Wrestling Hall of Fame Member, Jim Jordan (R-OH) has introduced a similar resolution in the House. On behalf of thousands of high school students and two 2012 Olympians with Ohio connections, we are asking the IOC to reconsider eradicating one of the original Olympic sports.

    Wrestling has been a sport longer than the IOC has been in existence. In addition to being practiced by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, our nation has a long history with wrestling. President Abraham Lincoln and two Ohio-born Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant and William Howard Taft, were wrestlers.”

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