Wrestling Voted Back Into Olympic Games for 2020 and 2024

olympic rings

September 08, 2013, Buenos Airs (ISN) – Wrestling survived the vote, and will remain in the Olympic Programme for the 2020 and the 2024 Olympic Games. The vote was ratified Sunday by IOC president Jacques Rogge at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The sport of Wrestling received 49 votes, with in second place Baseball/Softball with 24 votes, and Squash with 22 votes. 48 was the majority of votes needed for Wrestling to re-enter the program.

Earlier in the day, the IOC voted in favor of the Executive Board recommendation of the 25 core sports, which excluded wrestling.

“We are ecstatic that the IOC Members have voted to keep wrestling in the Olympic programme in Buenos Aires in Argentina. We as a community have worked extremely hard in the last six months to be where we are today,” said Don Ryan, President of Wrestling Canada.

“This vote of confidence will continue to fuel the dreams of countless kids across the world, including Canada. Many are relieved today that they can continue to wrestle with the hopes of reaching the Olympic podium.”

Canada’s Carol Huynh and Daniel Igali were in Buenos Aires for the presentation, two of the five members of the panel.

“There were three sports on the ballot for this vote, and we are thrilled to see wrestling came out as the one sport to be included in the Olympic progamme. Wrestling has a resounding history in the Olympic Movement, and the tradition will move on.”

The FILA has done exceptional work in spearheading the movement, and wrestling today is receiving this vote of confidence from the IOC. This doesn’t mean wrestling must stop actively working and improving the sport. Wreslting must remain dynamic and always strive to improve our sport.

Below are some backgrounder on the issue, and a resume of the modernisation of wrestling.

How Wrestling Got Here:
On February 12, 2013, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board recommended the 25 sports that would make up the “core sports” of the Olympic Games after 2016. Wrestling was not among those sports. Wrestling started an intense effort to save its position on the Olympic Programme and joined with seven other sports to have a chance to become an “additional sport” on the Olympic Programme for 2020 and 2024.

The eight sports campaigning were: Baseball-Softball, Karate, Roller Sports, Sport Climbing, Squash, Wakeboarding, Wrestling and Wushu.

On May 29 in St. Petersburg the IOC Executive Board met to vote for an unspecified number of sports to progress to the 125th Session of the IOC in Buenos Aires. Following presentations by all of the sports, it was decided that the sports advancing to Buenos Aires would be Wrestling, Baseball-Softball and Squash. All three sports were asked to present their case before the IOC Session on September 8.

Wrestling in the Olympics:
In addition to being one of the sports of the Ancient Olympiad in 708 B.C., wrestling was one of the main attractions for the first modern Olympics of 1896. Wrestling has remained a main event since, appearing in every Olympic Games since 1904.

Though often referred to as “Man’s Oldest Sport,” wrestling has made several significant adaptations over the decades. Greco-Roman was the original Olympic discipline, but wrestling added freestyle in 1904 in order to gain traction in developing countries. In 2004, in response to the sport’s growing popularity among women, FILA announced the addition of women’s freestyle. Wrestling now has 177 wrestling federations on six continents, and in 2012 a record-setting 71 countries qualified for the Olympic Games, with 29 countries earning medals.

The FILA President:
Mr. Nenad Lalovic of Serbia was elected as the seventh president of FILA on May 18, 2013 at a special Congress in Moscow. Lalovic, 55, had been serving as Acting President since February 16, 2013, when then-FILA President Raphael Martinetti resigned his post. Lalovic’s current term is set to expire September 2014, at which point he will be eligible to run for a six-year term as FILA President.

Lalovic joined the FILA Bureau in 2006 and was re-elected in 2012. He’s the former president of the Serbian Wrestling Federation and served on the Bureau of CELA, the European Wrestling Federation, and the Serbian Olympic Committee.

The Changes:

At its meeting in Phukett, Thailand, following the resignation of then-FILA President Raphael Martinetti the FILA Bureau named Nenad Lalovic as Acting President. The Serbian leader made immediate and lasting changes to the organization and the sport convening the entire membership of FILA to a three-day Extraordinary Congress May 18 in Moscow. The Congress acted to improve on three major areas of concern; rules of the sport, internal governance and gender equity.
v The Extraordinary Congress was a success. New rules were created, presented, discussed and passed. An improved governance structure was announced. And in August FILA’s request to add two more weight classes for women, effective for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janiero, were approved by the IOC. The number of weight classes in Greco-Roman, Men’s Freestyle and Women’s Freestyle are now scheduled to stand at 6-6-6.

New weight classes for women – FILA redistributed its weight classes to provide more opportunities for female wrestlers. Women gained two weight classes in Freestyle, while Greco Roman and Men’s Freestyle each lost a weight class. This new structure will be used for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

More active roles for Women and Athletes – FILA will have 3 seats for women and active athletes on the Bureau at all times. These Bureau participants will be elected by their peers.

Female Vice President – FILA will have at least one female Vice President on the Bureau at all times.

17 amended commissions – FILA proposed amending 15 Commissions during its Extraordinary Congress in May. It recently announced it will amend 17 Commissions, due to overwhelming interest from athletes and wrestling supporters that want to assist FILA.

Major rule changes- FILA introduced major rule changes to make the sport more interesting to the spectator, while ensuring the most active wrestler wins the match. These changes include:

– Moving from 3, 2-minute periods to 2, 3-minute periods

– Cumulative scoring for the match

– New scoring of spectacular throws awarding 3 or 5 points

– Enacting a new passivity rule
(If a referee determines a wrestler is being passive,they receive a warning. If there’s a second offense, the match will be stopped temporarilyand the offending wrestler must score a point within 30 seconds or their opponent receives a point.)

Developed World Wrestling Plan
FILA has developed a new strategic plan for the entire wrestling world. The first stage of this plan will be implemented at the World Championships later this month. This phase will: optimize FILA’s internal process, improve event presentation, develop the FILA brand and implement a new strategic communications plan.
Established Scientific Commission
FILA and the International Network of Wrestling Researchers established a Scientific Commission within FILA that will provide scientific expertise in presenting solutions to the modern issues the sport faces.

Monthly rankings
FILA introduced monthly rankings to the sport for the first time. Each discipline – Greco Roman, Men’s Freestyle and Women’s Freestyle – are announced a week apart from each other.

Save Olympic Wrestling Meet in Ancient Olympia In July, FILA and the global wrestling community returned to the birthplace of Olympic wrestling – Ancient Olympia, Greece – for the first wrestling match in Olympia since 393 AD. Of particular note, two 11 year old Greek girls wrestled in the Ancient Palaestra, marking the first time females had wrestled in Olympia, ever.

World Wrestling Month in May
FILA created, launched and managed World Wrestling Month. Wrestling events were staged around the World to highlight the significance the sport holds on the global stage. Matches during the month highlighted wrestling’s ability to unite nations, regardless of politics. Iran, Russia and the USA sent some of their top men’s talent to New York City to participate in an amazing event in Grand Central Terminal, while the women’s teams from Canada, Ukraine and the USA went to Niagara Falls for the Battle of the Falls. There was also a big event in Los Angeles featuring the USA, Russia and Canada featuring men’s and women’s wrestling.

Launched a redesigned website
In June, FILA launched a redesigned website. This new site is easier to navigate, incorporates vivid imagery and allows for the integration of live streaming video content and real time results.

Social media
Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and #TakeAStance FILA has been very aggressive on social media since February. The FILA Official Facebook page has grown by nearly 100,000 friends, totaling over 103,000 now and the FILA Official Twitter account has grown by nearly 40,000, from 4,000 followers to over 44,000 now. Additionally, President Nenad Lalovic took part in the social media revolution, by participating in a Twitter chat and Google+ Hangout with Olympic wrestling fans from around the World. Lastly, FILA created their own social media campaign, asking wrestlers to get in a classic wrestling stance and share user-generated photos across Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #TakeAStance.

Live streaming video
FILA provided live streaming video from the Junior and Cadet World Championships for the first time in history. This video was available through the FILA Facebook page and the FILA website.

Improvements for the television broadcast 
FILA representatives met with the Olympic Broadcasting Service, as well as other television broadcast experts, to explore changes to the presentation of their sport that could make it more attractive to viewers. Potential new technology includes point of view cameras closer to the action and the collection and integration of biometrics data into the broadcast.

Improved media access and information
FILA provided event previews and daily recaps of the Junior and Cadet World Championships to the media for the first time in the history of each event.

Scott Harrigan
Your #1 source for community and amateur sports related news on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and beyond! Send stories to scottharriganisn@gmail.com