Skip to content

Wrestling’s chances of 2020, 2024 Olympic inclusion

Sep 6, 2013, 9:56 AM EDT

Rumble on the Rails Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee will make the second of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose one of three sports — baseball/softball, squash and wrestling — for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time. For more on what happens Sunday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at each sport’s pitch. Here is a rundown of wrestling:

Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs gets one question more than any other from young, impressionable wrestlers.

Will wrestling be back in the Olympics?

The definitive answer is about to come down, seven months after wrestling was recommended to be dropped from the Games. Burroughs, 25, fought hard to capture gold in London, winning four matches in one day. He joined a different fight on Feb. 12, when he saw a BBC World News report of wrestling’s axing in a hotel near a German airport where he had a layover en route to Iran for a competition.

“I spent a bunch of time after the Olympic Games telling kids around the nation that if they dream, if they work hard and sacrifice, they can be an Olympic champion as well,” he said in a phone interview. “(After Feb. 12), I told everyone to stay optimistic, continue to work hard. The big picture is, regardless of whether the Olympics continue to keep wrestling or not, it’s still a really great sport.”

Wrestling has long been at the heart at the Olympic movement, which is what made February’s news so shocking. Some thought modern pentathlon would have been dropped. Instead, the IOC executive board tapped a sport that dates to the ancient Olympics and has been part of the Olympic program at every modern Games except 1900.

Squash’s chances at Olympic inclusion

Wrestling’s leaders knew all hope was not lost. In May, the IOC would pick three sports as finalists to fill the opening. In September, it would choose the replacement. Wrestling was eligible to try to get its spot back without missing any Games.

Since February, its international federation (FILA) made sweeping changes and campaigned vigorously. “Keep Olympic Wrestling” and “Save Olympic Wrestling” became mottos at special events where the U.S. and wrestling powers Iran and Russia united.

Swiss Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president in February. Nenad Lalovic of Serbia came in and brought the sport to where it is today, a favorite to stay in the Games. The Associated Press dubbed its chances “a virtual lock” to beat baseball-softball and squash.

What could hold wrestling back? Voters may want fresh blood in the Games, or they may not want to reverse February’s decision.

Lalovic, described as a chain smoker, burly and charismatic by media, was asked to rate his confidence level this week.

“Confidence, that’s a hard word,” he said in a phone interview. “Anyway, I’m optimistic, keeping in mind we’ve done everything possible for our sport, for this sport, in six months.”

Madrid’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

The changes included a move toward gender equality, recommended by the IOC. It added two weight classes to women’s freestyle, cutting one men’s freestyle and one men’s Greco-Roman class. That makes six classes each for the three disciplines. The scoring system and rules were also simplified.

Retired Olympic wrestlers joined Hollywood celebrities and stars from other spots in supporting the cause. Like 2000 Olympic champion Rulon Gardner, whose work included an appearance with 2008 Olympic champion Henry Cejudo on “The Tonight Show” with wrestling supporter Jay Leno in March.

Istanbul’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

Gardner said this week he had zero confidence going into the vote, not that he thinks wrestling will lose but because he’s staying cautious.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “I know some people are like, ‘Oh yeah, no problem, we’re in.’ Uh-uh.”

Burroughs’ immediate plans won’t change after he sees the IOC decision Sunday. He’ll return to the mat in preparation for another transatlantic flight next week. Destination Budapest, Hungary, for the World Championships.

“I’ll be watching very closely,” Burroughs said. “I know all the wrestling fans will be posted by their computers, by their laptops, waiting for the decision to be made.”

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

Latest Posts
  1. Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal split

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:28 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    An injury to Dalhausser spelled doom to their partnership.

  2. Boston ends bid for 2024 Olympics; USOC wants another city

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Boston 2024

    The 2024 bid race is down to four cities.

  3. Kerri Walsh Jennings to return at World Series of Beach Volleyball in August

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The three-time Olympic champion hasn’t played since dislocating a shoulder July 10.

  4. Olympic equestrian champ’s ban lifted in horse doping case

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:36 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Steve Guerdat’s provisional ban was announced last Tuesday.

  5. Boston mayor: Olympic bid won’t go forward if forced to sign contract today

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    Boston 2024

    Public support in Boston and Massachusetts has been less than 50 percent for months.

  6. Nike makes Ashton Eaton a ‘cooling hood’

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Nike Cooling Mask Nike

    “Why does it feel good, after running, to pour a bottle of water over your head?”

  7. Can Tour de France stars contend for medals at 2016 Olympics?

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:48 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The Rio Games open less than two weeks after the 2016 Tour de France ends.

  8. U.S. women dominate en route to FIVB World Grand Prix title

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:18 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The U.S. can achieve an Olympic first in Rio de Janeiro next year.

  9. Bill May becomes first man to win World Synchronized Swimming Championship

    Jul 27, 2015, 7:36 AM EDT

    AP AP

    May is a 36-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer who came out of a 10-year retirement.

  10. Neymar: I told Barcelona I want to play in Rio Olympics

    Jul 26, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Brazil’s coach has said Neymar’s Olympic participation is dependent on talks with Barcelona.

  11. Michael Phelps: I’ve looked at my 22 medals together once or twice

    Jul 26, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    More highlights from Phelps’ Q&A at the Doha Goals Forum.

  12. Simone Biles routs Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman at Secret Classic

    Jul 25, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Next up are the P&G Championships in three weeks.

  13. Jennifer Wu makes 2016 U.S. Olympic team in table tennis

    Jul 25, 2015, 7:06 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Wu is the second athlete to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team across all sports.

  14. Simone Biles as powerful as male gymnasts, Jonathan Horton says

    Jul 25, 2015, 7:43 AM EDT

    AP AP

    “She is as dominant as any athlete in any sport,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said.

  15. Shawn Johnson engaged after throwing first pitch (video)

    Jul 24, 2015, 7:09 PM EDT

    Shawn Johnson, Andrew East

    Johnson is at least the fourth member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team to get engaged.

  16. Usain Bolt returns with quick 100m wins in London

    Jul 24, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Less than a month until a showdown with Justin Gatlin at the World Championships.

  17. Claressa Shields: I would fight Ronda Rousey

    Jul 24, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “I know for a fact I would beat her in boxing. That’s simple. But MMA?”

  18. Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem revealed

    Jul 24, 2015, 9:26 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The emblem is based on three words.