Out of nowhere the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday that it was dropping free-style wrestling from the lineup of sports in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Country’s with strong performances in the sport have been quick to express their disappointment and shock, but possibly none more so than Japan, where they won six of their 38 medals from 2012’s London Games in wrestling, including four of their seven golds.
Female wrestler Saori Yoshida, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and world-record setting champion, was left in complete disbelief, saying that she felt shocked and frustrated. A log of younger wrestlers were aiming to compete in the Olympics one day, and now they wondering what to do, Yoshida added. The IOC’s executive board says it looked at each sport’s performance during the London Games, and the decision was made drop wrestling to make space for a new, unnamed sport. Among others in Japan who expressed their dismay were Japan Olympic Committee chairman Tsunekazu Takeda, saying that this decision came out of the blue and that it was hard to believe. Chiharu Igaya, an honorary member of the IOC, said that he couldn’t understand the rationale, and it was too bad as wrestling is one of the original Olympic sports.
All hope for wrestling is not lost however, as it still has a chance of being including in the 2020 Games by vying with seven other sports bodies for one open spot. Among the others in the same position are baseball and softball, which merged last year in a joint bid, karate, squash, and wakeboarding. The IOC will meet in May of this year to decide which of these sports will make the cut, along with a final vote in September at a session in Buenos Aires, where the host of the 2020 Games will be chosen from Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul.