International Olympic Committee (IOC) leaders dropped wrestling from the program for the 2020 Olympics today, an official familiar with the decision told news agencies.
In a surprise move, the IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon —— the sport considered most at risk —— and remove wrestling instead, the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn’t been announced yet.
The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.
Wrestling combines freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines.
It had 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year’s London Olympics.
Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St.Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.