Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2013: #7 Wrestling Has Rollercoaster Year With the Olympics

#7 Wrestling Has Rollercoaster Year With the Olympics

While the top ten list is mostly about host city bids, Wrestling’s struggle this year to remain an Olympic sport merits special mention as it is one of the biggest sports stories of the year – period.

It started February 12 when in a surprise move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board voted to drop Wrestling – an original Olympic sport dating back 3000 years – off of the programme starting in 2020. They said it didn’t achieve the same standards of the the other 25 sports in areas including television appeal, ticket sales and universality. Sports that were under the microscope including Modern Pentathlon, Tae Kwan Do and Badminton were spared the same fate.

The decision sparked international outrage, both in the sport world and in the maintream – immediately viral Internet campaigns sprouted and Hollywood stars rallied to save the sport. Due to the sport programme process, Wrestling was able to campaign for one spot that was available for the 2020 Games.

Lead by new FILA President Nenad Lalovic, Wrestling underwent sweeping changes including the rules, the uniforms and other elements right down to the federation’s Website. On May 29th in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wrestling made an IOC shortlist with Squash and Baseball/Softball to campaign for the 2020 spot.

On September 8 at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires, members first approved adding a sport to the 2020 programme, then overwhelmingly voted to elect Wrestling as that sport on a single ballot.

Wrestling remains without the “core sport” status but will be competed at the Tokyo 2020 Games. For future Games, the sport will have to campaign once again.

The entire Wresting debacle had two results; it helped transform a sport for the better – much better. It also showed a weakness in the sport programme process that saw a lot of effort result in no effective updates to the included sports.

Watch for top 10 story #7 coming soon on


About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.