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UPDATED: Wrestling one of 3 candidate sports placed on short list for 2020 Olympics by IOC Executive Board

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – The International Olympic Committee Executive Board announced that wrestling was in a group of three sports which have been selected for the short list of candidate sports for the final provisional sport spot in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

The other sports which were named to the short list of sports were squash and baseball/softball.

These sports will be presented for a final vote by the entire IOC General Assembly in its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September. Only one of these sports will be included in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

The sports which were not selected to advance to the final vote in Buenos Aires were karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.

FILA, the international wrestling federation, made a presentation to the IOC Executive Board today to make its case for inclusion in the Olympic Games. Making the presentation was an all-star group of wrestling leaders, including new FILA President Nenad Lalovic of Serbia and four past Olympic athletes, Jim Scherr of the United States, Carol Huynh of Canada, Daniel Igali of Nigeria and Canada and Lise Legrand of France.

"This is good news for wrestling, but obviously this is going to be a process," USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said. "The first part of the process is complete, and we're on to the next and most important part of the process. There is a lot of work ahead, but we're up to the challenge. The entire wrestling world needs to continue to push forward. We need to continue to work diligently and make upgrades and changes to the sport to ensure we are successful in Buenos Aires."

Wrestling was placed in this position on February 12, when the IOC Executive Board made a shocking recommendation that wrestling be removed as a core sport for the 2020 Olympic Games. Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic Games since its inception, as a featured sport in the ancient Olympic Games, as well as a sport in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896.

“USA Wrestling is pleased with the decision of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board to select wrestling as one of the three sports on the short list for consideration for a position in the 2020 Olympic Games program," USA Wrestling President Jim Ravannack said. "This outcome was made possible by the hard work and dedication of the worldwide wrestling community. USA Wrestling has taken a leadership role in supporting FILA in its efforts to improve our sport and retain its Olympic status. I want to thank all Americans who have stepped up in the last few months for wrestling, especially those who are involved in USA Wrestling’s grassroots programs, working daily on behalf of our nation’s young people. There is much more work to be done, and we look forward to the challenges ahead. We believe in our leadership team and in the passion of the wrestling community as it pursues the goal of remaining an Olympic sport.”

The international wrestling community has rallied in the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. Lalovic was named Acting President of FILA just days after the IOC recommendation after the resignation of former president Raphael Martinetti in February. Lalovic was elected as president during the FILA Extraordinary Congress in Moscow, Russia earlier this month. FILA has also approved a number of major changes in the sport, which included governance reforms which expands the inclusion of women and athletes in the sport, as well as a revision of the competition rules of the sport designed to make wrestling more dynamic.

"Wrestling took a welcome and necessary step forward today when the IOC EB placed us on the short list for The general assembly in Buenos Aires," said Bill Scherr, Chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling. "We are jubilant yet humbled by the IOC decision as we realize that it is a recognition of our hard work in reforming the governance of the sport and changing the rules and presentation of wrestling. Yet we realize this is only a start and that now we must re-double our efforts if we are to succeed in remaining on the Olympic program. As Chair of CPOW, I call upon all wrestlers and fans to join me in leading wrestling forward into the future. We must continue to improve FILA and their staff capabilities and governance structure. The new rules of the sport must be adopted and refined. Gender equity should be a rallying cry of our movement. Digital and social media must move ahead. The sport needs to expand its horizons and appeal to those outside our normal base. But most of all, we must all unite together behind this cause of wrestling. We open our arms to all interested in helping the greatest and ancient sport of wrestling. We will honor the legacy of those ancient warriors who came before us by preserving wrestlings Olympic position for generations to come."

Igali, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist for Canada, was confident wrestling would be selected following its presentation with the IOC Executive Board.

"I am extremely excited that wrestling was short-listed for inclusion along with baseball/softball and squash," Igali said. "That wrestling was mentioned first means we may have had the most votes in this first round of voting. FILA has made enormous changes to its governance process, including changes in wrestling rules. I have my fingers crossed for wrestling to get its fair placing in Buenos Aires in September."

Statement from FILA

FILA Pleased That IOC Short-Lists Wrestling for Final Vote in September

St. Petersburg, Russia – Nenad Lalovic, the newly elected President of FILA, expressed the organization’s satisfaction following the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board decision to include wrestling as one the sports under consideration for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

President Lalovic noted that “While our place in the Olympic Games is still not guaranteed, this decision recognizes the great lengths to which we are going to reform our sport and address the IOC’s concerns.

At FILA’s recent Extraordinary Congress we enacted a number of rule and governance changes and we hope that our continued efforts will ensure we are successful at the final vote in September. We recognize that there is still a long road ahead but we will continue to work to preserve our place in the Olympic Games.”

More information about the reforms is available on FILA’s website,

The IOC’s 100 delegates will convene in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 7th to cast a final vote on which one of the short-listed sports will be included in the 2020 Olympic Program.

Statement from the International Olympic Committee

The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today recommended that baseball/softball, squash and wrestling be proposed to the 125th IOC Session for possible inclusion as an additional sport on the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The EB selected the three sports by secret ballot from a shortlist of eight that also included karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. The vote followed 30-minute presentations by each International Federation and an extensive evaluation by the Olympic Programme Commission to determine their potential added value to the Games.

The full IOC membership will meet for the 125th Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7 to 10 September and will vote on which of the three sports to add to the programme of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in addition to the 25 core sports – plus golf and rugby sevens* – proposed by the EB in February.

“The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the Board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires. I wish the three shortlisted sports the best of luck in the run-up to the vote in September and would like to thank the other sports for their hard work and dedication.”

In an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games. The Commission uses 39 criteria in determining a sport’s suitability for the Olympic Games, including youth appeal, universality, popularity, good governance, respect for athletes and respect for the Olympic values.

*Golf and rugby sevens were added in 2009 as additional sports to the 2016 Olympic programme.
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