Most assumed it was a foregone conclusion that Modern Pentathlon would be dropped from the Summer Games schedule in 2020 to make way for a new sport. But in a surprise decision, the IOC has instead removed wrestling, which has been contested at all but one Olympics since 1896.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
IOC members reviewed 39 criteria including worldwide audience, TV ratings, anti-doping policy, and ticket sales for all 26 sports from the London Olympics, and then voted multiple times by secret ballot to whittle the list down to a final group that included wrestling, modern pentathlon, taekwondo, and field hockey.
However, the decision isn’t quite final. Wrestling, which includes both Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines, will now be thrown in against the other seven sports vying for a single spot in the 2020 Games schedule: baseball/softball, squash, wushu, roller sports, karate, sport climbing, and wakeboarding. A final vote will happen among the full IOC leadership at a meeting in Buenos Aires this September.