The hope of wrestling fans all over the world remains alive at least for a few more months after a decision by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
The IOC Executive Board voted to put wrestling on the short list of three sports in the running to fill the final spot for the 2020 and 2024 summer Olympics. Softball/baseball and squash are the other two that made the cut in what USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott called the "semifinals." USA Wrestling has its headquarters in Colorado Springs.
"This is good news for wrestling, but obviously this is going to be a process," USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said. "There is a lot of work ahead, but we're up to the challenge. The entire wrestling world needs to continue to push forward. We need to continue to work diligently and makes upgrades and changes to the sport to ensure we are successful in Buenos Aires."
The entire IOC membership will meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September and vote on which of the three sports will grab the 28th and final spot for 2020.
The five sports that didn't make the cut Wednesday were karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
Wrestling had been removed as a core sport from the 2020 games after a recommendation Feb. 12 by the IOC board. FILA, the governing body for international wrestling, made several rule and scoring changes since then in hopes of pursuading the IOC that the sport would become more spectator friendly and easier to understand. Wrestling dates back almost 5,000 years and was a part of the ancient Olympic games in Greece that began around 700 B.C.
Nenad Lalovic, the newly appointed president of FILA, said in a statement Wednesday after eight prospective sports made 30-minute presentations to the IOC in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"While our place in the Olympic Games is still not guaranteed, this decision recognizes the great lengths to which we are going to reform our sport," Lalovic sad.