The worldwide wrestling match for the future of Olympic wrestling is now upon us. After an unceremonious dismissal by the International Olympic Committee in February, the original Olympic sport ended up on the IOC's surviving shortlist — three final events will be considered for the 2020 Summer Games — at a presentation in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, and you could hear cheers on the Olympic phone line.
Yes, there's just one spot open for competition in 2020 — to be held in either Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid — and wrestling has some pretty weak international competition, with squash and a joint baseball/softball bid as the other finalists. Squash is actually regarded as the biggest threat to wrestling, since baseball and softball were already dropped by the IOC. (The sports that did not make the shortlist: wakeboarding, competitive rock climbing, karate, roller blading, and wushu.)
Wrestling will meet its final fate when the three sports are presented to the IOC's full committee at meeting in Buenos Aries in September, but it's sure to have strong support from the same critics who spoke out against the initial IOC plan to drop the sport. Dropping a sport that's been around since the very first Olympic games in Athens was absurd, argued wrestlers and practical sports fans alike. America and Iran used to a nuclear summit to agree that the IOC made the wrong decision. (They disagreed about pretty much everything else.) Russia was pissed, too, and Vladimir Putin was expected to put in a good word for the sport ahead of today's decision. Even Donald Rumsfeld got in on the act. And that's got to count for something, right?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.