The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board shortlisted wrestling last week as one of three finalists for inclusion in the 2020 Games. Chris Parisi continues to follow the sport’s road back to the Olympics.
In an early decision rendered by secret ballot, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee selected wrestling as one of three shortlisted sports to be presented to the full IOC membership for a final vote of inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The move validated the efforts over the last several months of FILA, the International Federation of Wrestling, to address glaring deficiencies in fan appeal. Sweeping changes to the match format and scoring, as well as more female representation within the wrestling organization, led the Executive Board to reconsider, at least for the moment, their initial findings back in February. (See Chris’s recent article on the details of those changes here.)
To say the rendering pleased recently elected FILA president Nenad Lalovic is an understatement. “While our place in the Olympic Games is still not guaranteed,” he said, “this decision recognizes the great lengths to which we are going to reform our sport and address the IOC’s concerns.”
But his reaction was also tinged with the reality that this preliminary vote only keeps wrestling in the mix and is nothing more than a chance at 2020 Olympic life. “We recognize that there is still a long road ahead but we will continue to work to preserve our place in the Olympic Games. The match is not finished. We have a second match to fight. But be careful, we are good fighters.”
The other two sports selected for final consideration of inclusion in 2020 were squash and the combination of baseball and softball. As IOC President Jacques Rogge acknowledged, “The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations. It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the Board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires. I wish the three shortlisted sports the best of luck in the run-up to the vote in September.”
Karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu did not make the cut. The final voting takes place the weekend of September 7th in Buenos Aires.
Read more of The Good Men Project’s coverage of Olympic Wrestling: