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Gender equality won the day for wrestling

9 September 2013

WRESTLING: The introduction of more women’s events paved the way for wrestling to be reinstated onto the Olympic program for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

Wrestling, discarded as a core Olympic sport earlier this year, has made an amazing comeback, winning overwhelming support from the IOC members ahead of its two rivals baseball/softball (merged) and squash.

At the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires wrestling polled 49 votes ahead of baseball/softball, 24 and squash 22 votes.

“Wrestling clearly got the message and addressed the attractiveness of their sport and they addressed the gender imbalance of their sport” AOC President John Coates said.

In February this year the IOC Executive Board decided wrestling had to go as part of a move to keep the Olympics fresh and evolving with new sports. It then joined the waiting list with baseball/softball and squash. 

With rugby sevens and golf the new additions on the Olympic program there was one place left for three candidates.

Wrestling underwent a transformation. “They dropped two men’s events in freestyle and replaced them with two women’s events so they now have six events each. That was a very positive move” Coates said. “That and other governance improvements were the difference”.

Coates strong defended the Executive Board’s original decision.”  You didn’t get any complaints from wrestling. They have used it to reinvigorate their sport.

They would not have made those changes... starting at the top... their president was replaced, they would not have made those changes unless we forced them too”. 

The new President of the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) admitted “we have made mistakes and we have learnt from them.

“We’ve had a wake up call and it would be an understatement to say that today is the most important days in the 3 thousand years of our existence”.

Wrestling also hired the former Media Director of the United States Olympic Committee, Bob Condron, to sell their message. It worked.

Australian Justin Huber who played pro baseball in the USA and Japan spoke on behalf of his sport and 5-time world squash champion, Australia’s Sarah Fitzgerald’ addressed the IOC on behalf of her sport.

“The losing sports should be encouraged to keep trying. There is a message now that the IOC should look at dropping disciplines instead of entire sports and that could open the door for one of those sports” Coates said. 

There are now almost two days of meetings and reports on progress of future Games, before the new IOC President and Vice President is determined. See the full schedule here>>>

Mike Tancred in Buenos Aires
Olympics.com.au @AUSOlympicTeam

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