St. Petersburg, Russia • Three months after wrestling got kicked out of the 2020 Olympics, the ancient sport is back in the frame and will compete against baseball-softball and squash for a spot in the games.
“We had the opportunity to have a second chance to compete,” international wrestling federation head Nenad Lalovic said Wednesday after the three sports made the IOC short list.
Of eight sports competing for a place on the 2020 program, five were eliminated — karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu. The IOC executive board decided to recommend wrestling, squash and baseball-softball to the full IOC assembly for a final decision on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Only one will get through.
“We are competitors. We had seven and now we have two,” said Lalovic, a Serb who has revamped FILA and led the campaign for reinstatement.
Despite a tradition dating to the Olympics of ancient Greece, wrestling was cut from the list of core sports by the IOC board in February. The decision caused an international uproar and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in an unlikely political alliance to save the sport.
Wrestling has gone through a major upheaval since the rejection. Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president within days of the decision and was replaced by Lalovic, who won election as full-time leader 10 days ago.
FILA has brought women and athletes into decision-making roles and enacted rule changes to make the competition more compelling. Matches will now consist of two three-minute sessions instead of three two-minute periods, and scoring will be cumulative instead of the previous best-of-three system.