Buenos Aires, Argentina (4E Sports) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has voted to restore wrestling in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2024 Olympics.
Wrestling received 49 votes while baseball/softball could not convince Olympic committee delegates about its universal appeal, garnering only 24 votes. Squash, which has never appeared in the Olympics, had 22 votes.
“I would like to offer my congratulations to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge. “Wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months.”
Rogge said wrestling has taken a number of steps to modernize and improve its sport, including the addition of more women and athletes in decision-making positions and rule changes to make the sport more exciting and easy to understand.
Also, Rogge said an increase in the number of women’s competitions was key in the decision to reinstate wrestling, which made its first appearance in the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C. and has been a staple of the modern Games.
Last February, the 15-member executive board of the IOC removed wrestling from the core sports of the Summer Games after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
After that, wrestling’s world governing body quickly began to reform itself. Its president, Raphael Martinetti, resigned and was replaced by a burly and gregarious Serb named Nenad Lalovic.
“We have made mistakes,” Lalovic said. “We admitted it. We have decided to listen and learn.”
There is still a chance that both baseball/softball and squash could be voted into the 2020 Games in Tokyo, where baseball is hugely popular and stadiums are already in place.
A new president of the Olympic committee will be elected Tuesday, and there is a movement by some delegates to make further changes to the Olympic sports program to give it broader appeal.