Has Enough Been Done To Promote Wrestling's Inclusion In 2020 Olympics?

Olympic champion Rulon Gardner reportedly says he’s not sure if enough has been done to keep wrestling on the 2020 Olympic program and beyond. He joined Olympians Henry Cejudo, Clarissa Chun, Kerry McCoy and Bill Scherr at an event in Washington Thursday organized by USAID and the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW).

Gardner said, “I don’t know, I’m not saying no, we haven’t (done enough) or we have. There is really no rhyme or reason for some of the decisions made by the IOC”.

Wrestling is competing against a joint bid by baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard for a spot in the 2020 Summer Games. The final vote will be in September.

U.S. wrestling leaders have been working closely with the International federation (FILA) as the sport tries to adapt its rules and organizational structure to appeal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Scherr said, “there’s as much unity in FILA as there is in any political organization, much like the Senate or the Congress, which is to say, so many considerations go into it. We’re trying to find a consensus about the changes that are necessary to be made. But we’re getting strong direction from the International Olympic Committee about what those changes should be. So I hope there’s a consensus built around what the IOC wants us to do”.

One change being considered is adding two weight classes for women’s wrestling at the Olympics, giving women six weight classes in total. Scherr, who has coached the women’s national team, calls the move “extremely important”.

He added, “I think the International Olympic Committee wants us to promote gender equity in sports. I want to see a day when women’s wrestling has an equal number of weights as men’s wrestling. I think the International Olympic Committee, one of the things they stand for is gender equity. If we were to get to that point, it only helps us”.

The IOC executive board is meeting in St. Petersburg May 29-31 when the IOC will make the cut narrowing the field of sports being considered for 2020.