Wrestling dominates IOC shortlist vote

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Wrestling dominated the IOC shortlist vote Wednesday in St. Petersburg, earning eight of fifteen votes in the first round to be moved ahead to an IOC vote this September in Buenos Aires.

Baseball/softball and squash were eventually added to the list as well, after hard-fought votes against the other five fellow candidate sports.

“Wrestling presented with its changes on the sporting rules as well as on the good governance side convincingly,” IOC VP Thomas Bach said. “The high number of voting rounds showed that the [Executive Board] did not take it lightly.”

Wrestling was also praised by IOC President Jacques Rogge last week, telling the Associated Press that FILA “definitely understood the reasons why they were ousted” and did an excellent job of addressing key issues, including removing failing leaders and adjusting the sport’s rules to make it more entertaining for casual fans.

This should be a confidence builder for wrestling officials, athletes, and fan, but doesn’t mean the battle is over. FILA’s arrogance and failure to adapt in the past led to the sport’s removal by the IOC in February, and now wrestling is facing two strong candidates who’ve had much longer to prepare for the vote.

Squash has probably the made the most impressive pitch of the eight sports, is wildly popular internationally, and has adapted the sport and made it more exciting for the live and TV audience.

And the World Baseball Softball Confederation, created earlier this year, is actively growing the sports with new training centers, and will continue negotiating with the MLB about including the pros in the Olympic Tournament. That would be a major boost to the bid if they can pull it off by September.

So while it may be cliche to say, it ain’t over till it’s over.