The International Olympic Committee Finally Gets It
Wrestling is back, and better than ever
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 16:09
Pride. Relief. Joy. Righteous determination. With the news coming from the International Olympic Committee on Sunday, a tidal wave of emotion issued forth and drenched the wrestling community as it found out that its sport would not, after all, be removed from the Olympic Games.
After the IOC announced in February that it would be removing wrestling from the list of Olympic competitions to make room for the likes of golf, it was met with a roar of indignant anger from not only wrestlers, but athletes across the Olympic spectrum. “How could they possibly remove wrestling? The oldest, the greatest of sports?” we wondered as, astounded, the IOC did just that.
Yet there was still a small ray of hope. The IOC was to allow one more sport to enter into the 2020 and 2024 Olympic games, in an opportunity to re-establish a permanent foothold on the Olympic docket. Three sports—wrestling, baseball/softball, and squash—would vie for that one place.
So wrestling went back to the drawing board. FILA—the international organization that governs wrestling competition across the globe—elected a new president, and swept its slate clean to rebuild from scratch. What came out with was a fresh, modernized sport with new rules, new administration, new gender equality policies and new operations altogether.
The world’s wrestlers came together in a truly Olympic effort to keep their sport in the games. Competitors, medal winners, coaches and administrators from countries as vastly different as Greece, India and Serbia came together to improve their sport, modernize it and keep it relevant in today’s athletic world, while paying homage to its noble past.
Some of the most significant changes that spectators may actually see will be rule changes that are expected to make the two styles of Olympic wrestling—the grueling, methodical Greco Roman and the faster paced Freestyle—both more exciting, and easier for unfamiliar spectators to understand.
Baseball and softball made a strong case for Olympic inclusion with their strong youthful following and growth in popularity among women, but I believe that the IOC has made the best decision possible in this case. By keeping wrestling in the Olympics, they have allowed the Olympics to stay true to its original goal—of bringing the world’s athletes together regardless of their differences.
Wrestling has been one sport that has always done just that. Wrestling is sport at its purest form—one athlete pitted against just one other. Strength versus strength, skill versus skill, cunning versus cunning. There are no outside factors. No bats, no balls, no horses, no sailboats. No rackets, nets or bicycles. Rich kids can wrestle, poor kids can wrestle. Iranians, Russians, Cubans, Norwegians and Canadians can all wrestle. No matter your home country, the climate you grew up in, your parents’ economic status or the size of your primary school, you can wrestle.
Wrestling breaks down all barriers and lays bare the raw athleticism of its competitors. It’s a sport unlike any other. And thankfully, it’s back in the Olympics.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.