Wrestling Could Be Dropped from 2020 Olympic Games

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COMMENTARY | Wrestling is not likely to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee surprised many athletes and fans alike when they voted on Tuesday to remove the sport from the list of 25 "core" sports.

IOC members also considered dropping taekwondo, modern pentathlon and field hockey before settling on wrestling, according to Reuters.

Removing wrestling from the core sports allows the IOC to add at least one more sport for the 2020 Games, as 26 sports have traditionally be contested. Wrestling could be put back on the Olympic program, though it's highly unlikely that IOC members would choose to include the sport so quickly after removing it from the Olympic docket.

Baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu also are hoping to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.

While making their decision, IOC members considered television rankings, ticket sales, anti-doping policies, global participation and popularity, among other things, according to the Associated Press.

The Olympic movement has long sought to gain a larger viewership, targeting younger fans in particular. In order to do so, the IOC has, in recent years, included sports such as BMX riding, which debuted in 2008, and beach volleyball, which debuted in 1996.

New sports, combined with technological advances, seem to have given young fans a reason to watch. The London Olympic Games were the most-watched in history, according to the Los Angeles Times, due in part to the fact that viewers could watch events from computers, tablets and mobile devices. The Olympics have, in many ways, adapted to the times -- which is certainly important for the movement. There's no denying that.

But the Olympics also are steeped in tradition, and history is important to the multi-sport event. Wrestling is one of the original Olympic sports and has been included in all but one Olympic competition since 1896. Only four other sports -- track and field, cycling, gymnastics and swimming -- have been in more Games.

Wrestling may not be the most popular of Olympic sports, but that kind of history is important. Plus, it's difficult for the sport to receive great TV ratings when it's largely only on TV in the middle of the night.

The IOC last voted to remove sports from the Olympic program in 2005. Then, baseball and softball were removed from the 2008 Games. Golf and rugby have been added to the 2016 program.

At the 2012 Games, more than 340 wrestlers competed for medals in 18 events. The events included seven men's weight classes and four women's weight classes in freestyle wrestling and seven men's weight classes in Greco-Roman wrestling.

The IOC is next scheduled to meet in May to discuss which events should be included in the 2020 Games. The final decision is expected to be made in September, according to the Associated Press.

During her career, Sandra Johnson has covered three Olympic Games. In addition, she also spent time working for the United States Olympic Committee, where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement while learning about each Olympic sport. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46

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