Wrestling Reinstated for 2020 Olympics

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 8 2013 2:30 PM

Wrestling Beats Out Baseball-Softball and Squash, Wins Reinstatement to 2020 Olympic Games

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Picture taken during the final presentation of wrestling to fill the final sports slot left vacant for the 2020 Olympic Games

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Seven months after one of the most traditional sports was kicked out of the Olympic program, wrestling was welcomed back into the roster Sunday, as expected. The vote by the International Olympic Committee members wasn’t even close, with wrestling receiving 49 votes in the first round of secret balloting. A joint bid by baseball and softball received 24 votes and squash got 22 votes, reports USA Today. "Wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months," IOC president Jacques Rogge said. "They have taken a number of steps to modernize and improve their sport."

Wrestling is one of the most traditional sports, with a history that dates back to the ancient Greek Olympics and has been on the program of every modern games except 1900, notes the Associated Press. That’s why it caught everyone by surprise when the sport was axed from the Olympics in February. Yet the move was largely seen as a wake-up call by wrestling authorities who proceeded to launch a massive effort to overhaul the sport and its leadership, reports the New York Times. Among the changes, wrestling elected a new leader, included more women in decision-making roles, and generally made wrestling easier to understand and more dynamic. In addition, two weight classes were added for women and two were dropped for men.

"With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference," Nenad Lalovic, the head of the wrestling’s governing body FILA, said. "I assure each of you that our modernization will not stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic movement that we can be."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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