The IOC voted Tuesday to drop one of its iconic sports, wrestling, starting at the 2020 Games.
The 15 person committee voted via secret ballot over several rounds, considering television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, and global participation and popularity. One of the oldest sports on the planet, this surprised a lot of people; seeing the modern pentathlon the most likely to be on the chopping block (taekwondo and field hockey were the other two choices). The idea of dropping a sport is to help introduce new sports to the games but keep the number in check.
Wrestling does have a second chance to be included once again, as the IOC will vote one sport for inclusion for the 2020 Games. Among others that are being considered are baseball/softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. It will have an uphill battle.
In the last Olympics, 344 men and women participated in wrestling, with a growth in popularity the past year.
I don’t usually do this, but here is what I think of all this. Let’s go through the voting criteria one by one.
Television ratings – It is hard for there to be ratings when you don’t air the sports at proper times and only air what they “think” people want. Obviously gymnastics and swimming will get great ratings. They put them in prime time. I feel wrestling gets the short end of the stick by the networks and really, wrestling gets better ratings than the other sports up for elimination.
Ticket sales – As far as I saw the arena was was a good 75% full for wrestling. I would say with good authority that it probably out sold taekwondo at least.
Anti-doping policy – This is probably what killed it. As strict as the IOC policy is on testing, this sport probably has the biggest issue with PED use.
Global participation and popularity – Like the previous stated rise in popularity in the U.S., the British have put up nearly a $1 million dollars to start a grassroots campaign to improve and promote wrestling programs in their country. Africa and South America have had some sort of wrestling sports for millennia.
Why I think it’s getting cut? Besides the afore mentioned PED use, budgeting to get the 344 athletes over to the Olympics (and drug tested) is another factor. The pentathlon (72 in total in 2012) and taekwondo (128 in 2012) has way fewer participants. Plus no one expected one of the oldest Olympic sports to be cut; so no one campaigned hard core on its behalf.
I feel that a campaign to bring it back is ahead, but probably won’t be fruitful for 2020 for the above reasons.
This is very disappointing and feel the Olympics are more thinking bottom dollar than actually what the public wants.
Filed under: BJJ/Wrestling