The battle for wrestling to regain its place on the roster of Olympic sports is already a long, drawn-out fight. For wrestling to again be a core Olympic sport in 2020 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) dismissed it in February, it must beat out a number of other sports, from baseball to wushu. A total of eight sports in all, battling for one available slot.
Each sport including wrestling will make its case to the IOC board in St. Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday, May 29. This IOC board will then select one sport – or a short list of sports – for the entire IOC membership’s consideration for the 2020 Olympics at a vote Buenos Aires, Argentina on Sept. 8.
To be successful, wrestlers must learn all they can about their opponents. To help the wrestling community know more about the sports vying for a place on the Olympic roster, College Wrestling Examiner provides a Cliff Notes’ explanation, along with links to official organization websites for further research.
Here are the other sports, in alphabetical order:
History: Baseball, which traces its roots back to mid-19th century United States, had its unofficial debut at the Modern Olympics in 1904, and had been an exhibition/demonstration sport at a number of Summer Games before becoming an official Olympic sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games. However, in 2005, the IOC voted baseball and softball out of the Olympics, effective with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2011, the official baseball and softball federations announced a combined bid to return to the Olympics in 2020.
However, this bid faces a couple major challenges. For starters, baseball and softball are thought of as being primarily US sports (though South Korea won the gold medal in 2008)… and, while the IOC has said it would want professional baseball players to participate in the Olympics, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has basically said that the sport could not shut down in the middle of the season to participate at the Olympics.
Official federation websites: International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation
Inline Speed Skating
History: According to the Federation Internationale de Roller Skating (FIRS) website, the organization was formed in 1924 to conduct roller hockey competitions between the few national federations which were already engaged on an informal basis in such competitions in western Europe. The organization adopted its present name in the 1960s, and became officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the international governing body for all roller skating. The sport has yet to be a part of the official roster of Olympic sports.
Official federation website: Federation de Internationale Roller Sports
History: A Tulane University website describes karate as “a Japanese martial art whose physical aspects seek the development of defensive and counterattacking body movements.” The word karate is a combination of two Chinese characters: kara = empty, and te = hand… thus, “empty hand.” A sport with ancient roots, karate has not been featured at the Olympics.
Official federation website: World Karate Federation (Note: Of all the official sport federation websites, the WKF website is one of the more polished, with a “the K is on the way” campaign to get karate included among the core sports of the Olympics.)
History: Humans have scaled mountains for millennia. However, indoor sport climbing is a much more recent phenomenon, where athletes climb to the top of purpose-built walls designed to replicate some of the formations found in nature. The sport has an X Games-type appeal especially for younger generations of athletes and fans. It has not been a part of the Olympics; however, in 2011, the IOC invited the International Federation of Sport Climbing to submit a bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Official federation website: International Federation of Sport Climbing
History: Squash is an indoor racquet sport played by two (singles) or four players (doubles) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball. The players must alternate in striking the ball with their racquet and hit the ball onto the playable surfaces of the four walls of the court. Squash, which can trace its roots back nearly 200 years, is recognized by the IOC; however, it has not been on the roster of official Olympic sports (though it just missed out being featured at the 2012 London Games). It has been featured at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games since 1998.
Like wrestling, squash has implemented changes with the hope of enhancing its chances of being a part of the 2020 Olympics, including a simplified scoring system, shortened games, and balls that are visible on TV (no mean feat, since squash balls can travel up to 120 miles per hour). And, like wrestling, the squash federation has created a marketing campaign to become an Olympic core sport, complete with “2020 Squash” logo.
Official federation website: Squash.org
History: Wakeboarding is an activity in which athletes ride a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water, usually towed behind a motor boat… or from a fixed overhead line, as featured at a number of cable parks. Wakeboarding brings together techniques from water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing, thus having potential wide appeal from a diverse range of younger-generation participants and fans. The sports’ federation can trace its roots back to 1946 (when it was the International Waterski Federation) and has been recognized by the IOC since 1967. Although a part of the World Games since 2005, wakeboarding has not been an official sport of the Summer Olympics.
Official federation website: International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation
History: Wushu is both an exhibition and full-contact sport that traces its roots back to ancient Chinese martial arts… but was developed in the past 60 years, in an attempt to preserve and standardize various martial arts in China. In fact, the word “wushu” is Chinese for “martial arts.” The sport has developed an international following, with the World Wushu Championships held every two years since 1991. The sports’ federation has been lobbying for a place on the Olympic roster for over two decades.
Official federation website: International Wushu Federation
Making a quick case for wrestling
Unlike many of the sports listed here that have been in existence for only a few decades, wrestling can trace its heritage back centuries, to ancient times. It was one of the original sports when today’s Modern Olympics were established in 1896. It is a sport that is open to male and female athletes of all sizes and nationalities. In fact, at the 2012 London Olympics, 71 nations competed in wrestling… and 29 could claim at least one Olympic medal. That’s inclusivity.
Official federation website: FILA, a French acronym — Federation Internationale des Luttes Associees (Lutte = wrestling in French). The website has recently undergone a makeover, and there seems to be an effort to update the website on a more timely basis.
Want to know more? Check out Canadian news website Mississauga.com for a quick overview of the eight sports vying for a place at the 2020 Olympics… and a May 17 Washington Post column that makes the case for wrestling over these other sports.
See what’s been going on with wrestling at the Olympics… click here for a list of College Wrestling Examiner’s Olympic wrestling stories.
Get the big picture on changes to Olympic wrestling. Amateur Wrestling News’ Jason Bryant provides a detailed analysis of FILA’s proposed changes for both freestyle and Greco, written BEFORE FILA’s Extraordinary Congress on Saturday… and the Des Moines Register’s Andy Hamilton writes about wrestling’s new rules, including a PDF file of a FILA document outlining the changes.
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