Here is a story from the Associated Press on the IOC’s decision to drop wrestling for the 2020 Olympic games. The reaction to the news has been strong, as the wrestling community is rallying to try and save their sport. We got reaction from a few locals and added it to the story:
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND— For wrestling, this may have been the ultimate body slam: getting tossed out of the Olympic rings.
The vote Tuesday by the IOC’s executive board stunned the world’s wrestlers, who see their sport as popular in many countries and steeped in history as old as the Olympics themselves.
While wrestling will be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was cut from the games in 2020, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.
2004 Olympic Greco-Roman champion Khasan Baroev of Russia called the decision “mind-boggling.”
“I just can’t believe it. And what sport will then be added to the Olympic program? What sport is worthy of replacing ours?” Baroev told the ITAR-Tass news agency. “Wrestling is popular in many countries — just see how the medals were distributed at the last Olympics.”
American Rulon Gardner, who upset three-time Russian Olympic champion Alexander Karelin at the Sydney Games in an epic gold-medal bout known as the “Miracle on the Mat,” was saddened by the decision to drop what he called “a beloved sport.”
“It’s the IOC trying to change the Olympics to make it more mainstream and more viewer-friendly instead of sticking to what they founded the Olympics on,” Gardner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Logan, Utah.
Fox Lane coach Anthony Rodrigues, whose son Steven is currently wrestling for the University of Illinois, was also distraught.
“It’s shocking; I don’t see any basis for it,” Rodrigues said. “The IOC obviously has their own agenda. We as a wrestling community have to fight to restore it.”
North Rockland junior Matt Caputo, who won a section title at 138 pounds Monday, was also disappointed.
“I feel that it’s terrible to drop a sport that’s been around since the Roman ages and that is the most competitive sport in the Olympics,” Caputo said. “Dropping it would devastate a lot of wrestling fans all over the world. Wrestling is not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle.”
The executive board of the International Olympic Committee reviewed the 26 sports on its summer program in order to remove one of them so it could add one later this year. It decided to cut wrestling and keep modern pentathlon — a sport that combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — and was considered to be the most likely to be dropped.
The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV 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.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling; it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
According to IOC documents obtained by the AP, wrestling ranked “low” in several of the technical criteria, including popularity with the public at the London Games — just below 5 on a scale of 10. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.
Wrestling also ranked “low” in global TV audience with a maximum of 58.5 million viewers and an average of 23 million, the documents show. Internet hits and press coverage were also ranked as low.
NBC, which televises the Olympics in the U.S., declined comment.