On some basic sporting level, it seems wrong that wrestling wouldn’t be part of the Olympic program. It doesn’t get more Olympian than wrestling, doesn’t it? The sport dates back to the first Olympiad in 1896 and all the way back to the days of ancient Greece. You’d think wrestling is interwoven with the five rings in the Olympic logo.
However, wrestling faces the ax from the Olympics following the 2016 games. It’s simply not hip enough to hang with the likes of golf and dressage. The IOC has hinted the sport needs to adopt some spectator (read: TV-friendly) changes to keep it part of the Games’ program.
Facing extinction from the Olympics, the United States, Russian and Iran — often enemies in most other things — have joined forces to try to keep the sport alive. Wednesday the three countries squared off in a makeshift ring inside New York’s Grand Central Station in an attempt to drum up awareness for the sport as it makes its case to remain on the 2020 Olympic program. In Iran, wrestling has deep cultural and sporting significant dating back hundreds of years.
The other sports trying to get back into the Olympics for the 2020 Games are: baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu. The IOC will hold its vote later this year in Buenos Aires to determine which sport will be kept around. Golf and rugby were added to the upcoming 2016 Games in Rio.
Don’t forget, there’s a trickle down here. If you pull wrestling from the Olympics it will impact both college and high school wrestling programs long term.