IOC votes to keep wrestling on Olympic program

The IOC voted on Sunday to reinstate wrestling into the Olympic program for the 2020 and 2024 Games, just seven months after scrapping the sport from the Olympic agenda.

Wrestling earned 49 votes, defeating the joint submission of baseball/softball (24) as well as squash (22).

All three sports made impassioned 20-minute presentations before the 95-member committee and were then asked various questions from the respective panels. Wrestling’s presentation made the point that it’s not just an ancient sport, and that there would be significant reforms designed to make the sport more exciting.

Some of those will be adopted from the MMA world including music, different lighting and the removal of the red mat, because network executives say it doesn’t show well on TV, according to USAToday.

“This is the most important day in the 3,000-year history of our sport,” said Nenad Lalovic, the International Wrestling Federation president. “Believe me. We feel the weight of that history. Remaining on the Olympic program is crucial to wrestling’s survival,” he said during his presentation.

After the decision, Lalovic assured the IOC that wrestling wouldn't stop its progression.

"With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference," he said. "I assure each of you that our modernization won't stop now."

Part of the reason wrestling was axed in the first place was because it was supposedly stuck in the past. As part of the presentation, wrestling harped on its improved leadership possibilities for women – a significant concern of the IOC. It also explained rule changes and a new scoring system designed to benefit aggressive wrestlers.

“Every sport, even the oldest one like ours, must be updated and we failed to do so,” said Lalovic. “We have quite a different sport now. It’s exciting. It’s not boring anymore. Athletes are obliged to be aggressive.” 

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