• Olympics

Wrestling loses Olympic status

ESPN staff
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Wrestling was part of the original modern Olympic programme in 1896

Wrestling has been removed from the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games by the IOC and must now fight for its Olympic status.

One of the sports to feature at the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896, wrestling has been dropped from the 26-sport roster from a shortlist that included modern pentathlon and taekwondo.

Modern pentathlon, the brainchild of Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was thought to be most at risk of being removed from the Games' core sports, but has been retained.

Wrestling must now apply for inclusion in 2020 alongside karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, a combined bid from baseball and softball, and wushu. All seven sports will be vying for a single opening in seven years' time.

"This is a process of renewing and renovating the programme for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best programme 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."

Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing for 18 gold medals in the freestyle and Greco-Roman categories at the London Olympics 2012. Men's wrestling has featured at every Olympics except the 1900 Games, while women's wrestling was added to the Olympic roster in 2004.

"The news from the IOC is extremely disappointing," said British Wrestling chief executive Colin Nicholson. "We hope that wrestling will be added back to the programme when the full IOC meet in September.

"If wrestling is taken out of the Olympics, it will be a great disappointment as it is an extremely popular sport around the world."

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