My View…Dear IOC members, please resignThe International Olympic Committee’s decision to drop both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling competition from the 2020 summer Olympics is astounding.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The International Olympic Committee’s decision to drop both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling competition from the 2020 summer Olympics is astounding.
Um, rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. Need I say more?
While those who pursue the above sports certainly work hard to master them, it seems insane that such marginal – and in my eyes, boring and undramatic – sports could ever be approved for the Olympics, much less beat out wrestling.
The list of sports being considered to replace wrestling isn’t much better. Baseball and softball, ousted after 2008, are making a joint bid to return. Other hopefuls include two martial arts — wushu and karate — as well as sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and inline skating.
Lumberjacks wrestling Coach Al Denman – who found out about the IOC decision on his way home from a wrestling meet Tuesday night – is baffled (and livid).
After all, wrestling has only been in the Olympics since 708 B.C., and is second in longevity only to track and field.
“All sports have their unique requirements and skill set, but there isn’t another sport as difficult physically, emotionally and psychologically as wrestling,” Denman said on the phone Wednesday. “They’re taking away a sport that epitomizes the Olympic ideal – ‘Citius Altius Fortius (faster, higher, stronger).”
Denman called it one-on-one combat. Requiring no special equipment, wrestling is all about one person trying to subdue another, using his or her arms, upper body, legs and lots of brain power.
Yes, I said “her.” Just ask any of the other girls who have wrestled in Cloquet. Women’s freestyle wrestling joined the Games in 2004, but the IOC said it preferred sports that were “relevant” to more fans.
Um, rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming, ribbon dancing … those are sports every kid plays, right?
The decision to drop wrestling was made by secret ballot after four rounds of voting by the Olympic committee’s 15-member executive board at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exact vote and the reasons for the decision were not given in detail. In May, the same IOC group will decide which of eight candidate sports, including wrestling, to recommend for inclusion on the 2020 program, which can have 28 sports.
The full IOC membership will have the final decision at its annual meeting in September.
According to the New York Times, in recent years, the IOC has said that it wants to attract younger viewers to the international television audience.
Well, they should go to a Cloquet Area Youth Wrestling Association meet and see just how many youngsters wrestle around here.
Therein lies the real tragedy behind the IOC decision.
“Every kid who’s a good wrestler secretly dreams of being an Olympic champion,” Denman said. “Not having wrestling in the Olympics is taking away the last worldwide setting to prove yourself [as a wrestler]. That’s like saying that hockey doesn’t get its Stanley Cup anymore.”
The voting rules for final approval of new sports have yet to be determined. Perhaps the IOC should decide on a definition for “sport” before they proceed any further. After that, they should look up a definition of “international.”
After that, maybe they should resign.
The Chicago Tribune made the argument that more countries (29) won wrestling medals last summer in London than had participants in modern pentathlon (26), despite the modern pentathlon federation pumping up its nation numbers by allowing mediocre athletes from several countries. Wrestling had athletes from 71 countries. In several of those countries — Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan — it is the unofficial national sport.
On Tuesday, the IOC said in a statement that it wanted to ensure that it remained “relevant to sports fans of all generations.”
I’ll let my 13-year-old daughter have the final say here, a comment that should show the IOC how much respect she has for their decision making.
“By the time I grow up, they’ll probably have limbo-ing in the Olympics,” she said in response to the wrestling decision.
Excuse me, members of the IOC, is the limbo on your list?
Editor’s note: Apparently, the IOC doesn’t have email. But letters are welcome. Send to International Olympic Committee, Château de Vidy, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland. Or drop them off at the Pine Journal at 122 Avenue C and we’ll send them in an envelope together. There are also several online petitions people can sign.