FanDuel - WFBC

February 12, 2013

Olympics drop wrestling for 2020: The International Olympic Committee has dropped wrestling from the list of "core" sports as of the 2020 Games. The shocking decision would mean that the sport, which had 18 events for men and women at last year's London games, is off the program for the first time since 1900.

posted by Etrigan to olympics at 01:11 PM - 26 comments

(I had to try so hard not to use professional-wrestling terms and jokes.)

posted by Etrigan at 01:13 PM on February 12

Huh. I kind of got into Modern Pentathlon at the London Games (#JJGo) so I'm glad to see it's still around, but for me there is not a more Olympic-y sport than wrestling. Maybe the IOC didn't like any of the other sports applying for bids ("baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu") so they figured they dump a sure thing into that pool? I guess I need to stop assuming the decisions of international sports governing bodies are going to make any kind of sense.

posted by Rock Steady at 01:31 PM on February 12

I kind of got into Modern Pentathlon at the London Games (#JJGo) so I'm glad to see it's still around, but for me there is not a more Olympic-y sport than wrestling.

ModPent is sort of easy to organise, as it's now done during the final weekend when everything is winding down, and re-uses existing facilities. (There was a good turnout in London, especially for the Comedy Horse Lottery in association with Findus.)

On the other hand, wrestling basically needs a general-purpose arena and a matted floor, so it can re-use the facilities devoted to judo and taekwondo, which is what happened in London. So my guess is that it's more to do with IOC-federation politics than anything else.

Maybe the IOC didn't like any of the other sports applying for bids

That sounds about right, since it's now one of those eight that gets chosen later in the year. It's an easy way to once again stiff squash, which admittedly has technical issues with the facilities, but has by far the best claim of the seven candidates. It's the equivalent of Heinz announcing that it'll discontinue its salad cream, basking in the brand promotion that ensues, then saying that they'll keep it around.

posted by etagloh at 02:03 PM on February 12

I have to figure that's not going to go over very well with some Baltic-area nations (Turkey (28 of their 39 gold medals), Hungary, Bulgaria (their top sport), Romania).

posted by grum@work at 02:05 PM on February 12

some Baltic-area nations (Turkey (28 of their 39 gold medals), Hungary, Bulgaria (their top sport), Romania).

ITYM Balkan. The wrestling belt runs from the Black Sea to the Caspian, with the US, Cuba and Korea as odd outposts. Perhaps it's just enough votes to keep out the squash advocates.

posted by etagloh at 02:53 PM on February 12

Jayzus... I mean along with the more basic track and field events, is there anything that is more authentically "Olympics" than wrestling? That's insane! And as etagloh points out, it's hardly like building a swimming arena solely for that class of sports- you can do wrestling in any event hall, just toss a few mats down on the floor. Maybe it's as described, that wrestling gets to re-apply for the sole open slot, and as such this is a guarantee the others won't get in- i.e., it's all a political gambit.

But I don't get what the limiting factor is; is there some law about how long the Olympics can run for? They have to drop sports to make room for others? It's not like the IOC has any respect for the cripplingly deep debt the host cities go into, that it cares about having them build yet another facility.

posted by hincandenza at 02:56 PM on February 12

is there anything that is more authentically "Olympics" than wrestling?

That was my first reaction, as well. Wrestling doesn't take expensive equipment or a field, so there is no advantage to wealthier countries, and the one-on-one aspect of it lands itself perfectly to a medal-based platform. It is also played around the world, and has been for centuries. I personally love wakeboarding, but it has no place supplanting wrestling in the Olympics. No idea about sport climbing, wushu, or roller sports, but I just can't see how they would be more universally played and playable than wrestling.

Full disclosure-my son started wrestling this year and I have really learned to appreciate it as a sport.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:53 PM on February 12

Balkan/Baltic

I make that mistake almost every time.

posted by grum@work at 04:31 PM on February 12

Times change, the popularity of events waxes and wanes, but, come on, olympic wrestling is on vases that are like more than two millennium old. There's a reason the sport has lasted as long as it has and that's because its kind of the quintessential perfect competition between two people. Nothing is required except a pair of people and the ground.

I mean, I'm glad that pankration and chariot racing aren't current events, but most of the other classic events survive in some form to this day because they're elemental. I'm not saying their better or worse than, say, gymnastics or basketball, but they (including wrestling) are essential elements of athletics.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:19 PM on February 12

Perhaps we can teach the wrestlers a true olympic sport with more appeal, like curling.

posted by cixelsyd at 05:32 PM on February 12

Perhaps we can teach the wrestlers a true olympic sport with more appeal, like curling.

Or beach volleyball - maybe all they need is a wardrobe change.

Shudder.

posted by dfleming at 05:41 PM on February 12

Balkan/Baltic

I make that mistake almost every time.

The easy way to remember it is that one is a simmering cauldron of ethnic tension, and the other costs you $60 in Monopoly.

posted by Etrigan at 05:52 PM on February 12

I think any sport where an Olympic gold is considered the pinnacle achievement in that sport should stay right where it is. There are sports where the Olympics are practically an afterthought compared to other events, e.g. soccer (World Cup), which are better candidates for elimination, IMO.

posted by TheQatarian at 05:57 PM on February 12

I think any sport where an Olympic gold is considered the pinnacle achievement in that sport should stay right where it is. There are sports where the Olympics are practically an afterthought compared to other events, e.g. soccer (World Cup), which are better candidates for elimination, IMO.

Agreed. Get rid of tennis. And isn't golf going to be added? I'm against that as well for the same reason.

posted by sbacharach at 06:07 PM on February 12

I think any sport where an Olympic gold is considered the pinnacle achievement in that sport should stay right where it is.

Oh, holy cats, that is exactly it on the head. That's the best way I've heard this stated, but you're absolutely right.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:45 PM on February 12

Women's soccer is not an afterthought. Men's soccer is popular even though it limits each nation to three players over 22. The best argument for limiting the men is that a full men's soccer competition might overwhelm the rest of the Olympics.

posted by rcade at 07:08 PM on February 12

Agree with SB ... tennis and golf are virtually tour events even though there are limits per country. Don't think you'll see any golfers or tennis players from Laos in them.

As for the schedule, I'm not sure if 17/18 days is a hard limit; I cannot imagine the harm in an extra day. Could be a matter of number of athletes vs. living accommodations in the Olympic Village.

As I see it, the problem came when the IOC, in an effort to appeal to younger viewers, threw in these modern "sports." Snowboarding? Short-track roller racing? Rugby? Had it been the real 15-man game and not the crappy sevens: it's like playing touch football at the local park.

posted by jjzucal at 07:08 PM on February 12

I agree that tennis and golf are not necessary for the exact reasons I stated. I'd also argue that the Women's World Cup is bigger than the Olympics, though the Olympics aren't necessarily an afterthought. I also think that given a few cycles, the WBC could prove to be a perfectly acceptable baseball world championship, thus obviating the need for it in the Olympics.

posted by TheQatarian at 07:18 PM on February 12

There is a group that is trying to bring pankration back to the Olympics.

So they will decide what sport to add in September. It's hard to see how squash or baseball/softball will get in ahead of wrestling.

posted by Steve-o at 07:21 PM on February 12

I don't get what the limiting factor is; is there some law about how long the Olympics can run for?

The 16 days between Friday night opening and Sunday night closing are pretty much locked in these days, but football group matches and archery ranking rounds precede the opening ceremony.

To complicate the politics even further, Istanbul is bidding for the 2020 games, although Tokyo is currently considered the favourite. To place in jeopardy the presence of a top event for a potential host city seems more than coincidental to me. Then again, the Telegraph writeup talks about perceived issues with TV appeal, but it also suggests that wrestling didn't conduct an "effective lobbying campaign", which sounds like IOC-code for something that rhymes with "tribes".

I like the "pinnacle achievement" formula (and I've heard it before) but don't mind the football competition on the men's side, because it fits into the FIFA youth championship system, and if you have a men's competition, you need a women's one too, even if you can't make it a U23+ringers tournament. For tennis and golf, though, it's just another tour week.

posted by etagloh at 07:28 PM on February 12

I'm not a wrestling fan, but to me the Olympics really lost something with the elimination of this event.

posted by NerfballPro at 08:20 PM on February 12

ITYM Balkan.

Wasn't familiar with that acronym and the first search hit is International Tournament of Young Mathematicians (ITYM)!

As I see it, the problem came when the IOC, in an effort to appeal to younger viewers, threw in these modern "sports." Snowboarding? Short-track roller racing? Rugby?

This is great, I hadn't seen a '_____: not a sport' comment on Spofi in a coon's age.

posted by tron7 at 10:07 AM on February 13

Inline roller skating isn't in the Olympics. It is on the list to be considered for 2020.

posted by Steve-o at 09:59 PM on February 13

Thanks; maybe I was thinking of the Winter Games.

Combined baseball and softball bid? They're two sports and presumably many Americans want them because they wants any sport in which the Americans would dominate. I'd rather watch sports in which athletes from many countries have a chance to medal; wrestling is one of them.

posted by jjzucal at 10:54 PM on February 13

Combined baseball and softball bid?

The IOC is bad at lots of things, but it's less bad at promoting gender balance, hence the combined bid by the two federations. I don't think Americans are much fussed about their presence or absence, either.

posted by etagloh at 02:29 AM on February 14

'-------: is NOT a sport...not in coon age anyway.

posted by Folkways at 10:54 AM on February 15

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