Wrestling keeps its Olympic inclusion hopes alive; makes 2020 shortlist

Wrestling's chances of regaining its place on the Olympic sports roster moved a step closer on Wednesday as the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) included it in a shortlist of three to be voted on in September by the wider membership.

The vote followed a 30-minute presentations by each international federation and an extensive evaluation by the Olympic Programme Commission to determine their potential added value to the Games.

Wrestling is one of the Olympics' most historic sports but was surprisingly voted off the list in February by the same Executive Board.

It will compete against squash and a joint softball/baseball bid in Buenos Aires on September 8.

Both softball and baseball were voted off as separate sports in 2009 and replaced by golf and rugby sevens, which will each make their debuts in 2016,

Only one sport will be added to the roster.

Sushil Kumar
Sushil Kumar

Squash great Nicol David, who appeared as part of the presentation team, was ecstatic at the result.

"This is a great day for Squash as it takes us one step closer to realising our long held ambition to join the Olympic Games," said the seven-time women's world champion.

"I said to the Executive Board that the one big regret in my career is that I have never had the chance to compete in the Olympic Games, but I would happily trade all my seven world titles for the chance of Olympic Gold.

"Hopefully that showed what competing in the Games means to me," added David, who will be 37 should squash win the spot for the 2020 Games.

IOC President Jacques Rogge, who himself will be replaced in September when he steps down after 12 years in charge, said that all the sports had given a good account of themselves to him and his fellow 14 members of the Executive Board.

"The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations," said Rogge.

"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 and would like to thank the other sports for their hard work and dedication."

The full IOC membership will meet for the 125th Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Sept 7-10 and will vote on which of the three sports to add to the 2020 Olympic programme in addition to the 25 core sports - plus golf and rugby sevens - proposed by the EB in February.

In an effort to ensure the Olympics remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games.

The commission uses 39 criteria in determining a sport's suitability for the Olympic Games, including youth appeal, universality, popularity, good governance, respect for athletes and respect for the Olympic values. 

Five other sports failed to get on the shortlist after making their presentations to the Executive Board: climbing, karate - which had been thought to be in with a good chance of making the list - martial art wushu, wakeboard - a nautical sport - and roller sports.

Wrestling, one of the rare sports to transcend the ancient and modern Games, has introduced a sweeping range of reforms since it was voted off under new president Nenad Lalovic.

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