Tokyo was not alone in celebrating after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) handed them the privilege of hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, as members of the Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles also celebrated a major victory with wrestling being voted back in to the Olympic games roster for the Tokyo event. This marks the return of a sport that has transcended both the ancient and modern Olympic games, but was in danger of being axed from the roster just six months ago.
As wrestling is naturally popular in Japan, the selection of Tokyo as the host city for the XXXII Olympiad was a big boost for wrestling as it battled to get back on the official list of sports for the 2020 Olympics. With this decision, the sport is guaranteed of a spot in the Tokyo summer games and also in the 2024 version. This caps a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the sport, having been initially dropped from the Olympic roster in February this year by the IOC Executive Board because of rumored corruption in the ranks of the sport. Presenting a new leadership and some new steps to modernize the sport, the IOC gave a chance to the sport and included them in a 3-sport shortlist with baseball/softball and squash. At the voting in Buenos Aires, 49 of the 95 votes cast were with wrestling, guaranteeing their spot at the quadrennial games.
“It would be an understatement to say that today is the most important day in the 3000 years of our existence,” said wrestling federation president Nenad Lalovic at the presentation. “We have made mistakes and we have learnt from them,” Lalovic added. “With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference,” said Lalovic, who is not a wrestler himself but whose son represented Serbia at international level. “I assure each of you that our modernization will not stop now,” he assured the IOC board. “We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be.”
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