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. Kayla Harrison stunned at World Judo Championships

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Kayla Harrison AP

    “That feeling of wanting to crawl out of your skin.”

  2. Anthony Davis would rather win second Olympic gold than first NBA MVP

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Getty Images

    Davis, the second youngest U.S. Olympic basketball player ever in 2012, played the fewest minutes for Team USA at the London Games.

  3. Caitlyn Jenner keeps Olympic gold medal in makeup drawer

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    Caitlyn Jenner AP

    Jenner explains why the medal isn’t displayed.

  4. Aries Merritt wins bronze before kidney transplant; incredible Worlds performances

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:39 AM EDT

    Ashton Eaton AP

    Ashton Eaton clocks a decathlon world record. The third fastest woman ever in the 200m. The U.S. was shut out of the medals in its best event.

  5. Usain Bolt receives gift from Segway cameraman at medal ceremony

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:25 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Tao Song

    A CCTV cameraman presented Bolt with a red bracelet.

  6. Usain Bolt may retire after Rio Olympics

    Aug 27, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt AP

    Bolt previously said he would retire after the 2017 World Championships.

  7. Usain Bolt taken out by Segway (video)

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:53 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Segway

    “The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off.”

  8. Usain Bolt crushes Justin Gatlin in World Championships 200m

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:52 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin AP

    Also, Allyson Felix broke a U.S. record for World Championships medals.

  9. Allyson Felix wins 400m, breaks U.S. record for Worlds medals; Rio preview?

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:51 AM EDT

    Allyson Felix

    Felix could try to race two individual events at the Rio Olympics.

  10. Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin’s first race together from 2005 (video)

    Aug 27, 2015, 7:48 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin

    Justin Gatlin got the best of Usain Bolt in their only race before Gatlin’s doping ban.

  11. Oscar Pistorius’ parole review date set, reports say

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:51 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius AP

    Pistorius could be out of prison in weeks.

  12. Sarah Hendrickson out for season after another knee surgery

    Aug 26, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The first female Olympic ski jumper reinjured her right knee.

  13. Paul Wylie: I survived by the narrowest of margins

    Aug 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT

    Paul Wylie Getty Images

    Wylie went into sudden cardiac arrest on April 21 and was in a medically induced coma for two days.

  14. Jordan Spieth eyes childhood dream of walking in Opening Ceremony

    Aug 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Jordan Spieth AP

    The Opening Ceremony conflicts with a PGA Tour event.

  15. FINA may set age minimum for World Swimming Championships

    Aug 26, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT

    AP AP

    A 10-year-old girl competed in Kazan earlier this month.

  16. Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid logo, renderings released

    Aug 26, 2015, 10:28 AM EDT

    Los Angeles 2024 logo

    Dodger Stadium and The Forum are potential venues.

  17. Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin set up duel; South African stretchered off after 400m gold

    Aug 26, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT

    AP AP

    A two-time Olympic champion in the 200m moved into another runner’s lane during a semifinal.

  18. Ashleigh Johnson stands out on U.S. water polo team (video)

    Aug 25, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Johnson could become the first African-American woman to compete on an Olympic water polo team.

  19. Former coach of Olympic gymnasts faces child molestation charges

    Aug 25, 2015, 11:42 AM EDT

    Marvin Sharp Getty Images

    Marvin Sharp coached Bridget Sloan and Samantha Peszek.