The International Olympic Committee has dropped wrestling, beginning… (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )
In a stunning surprise, the International Olympic Committee dropped wrestling, which has been a part of the modern Games since they began in 1896, from the Summer Olympics starting in 2020.
Modern pentathlon was considered the most likely sport to be dropped. The decision was made by secret ballot over several rounds. Four sports were on the bubble in the final round: Wrestling, modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey.
The IOC board acted after reviewing all 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.
"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."
The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity.
Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at the 2012 London Olympics.
Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. One of those seven sports will be voted into the Games, though it is unlikely that wrestling will be voted back in after being cut.
The final vote on which sport to add will be made in September. Golf and rugby will be joining the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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