Bones Jones, Askren, Kennedy and Other MMA Elite Share Frustration with Cancellation of Olympic Wrestling in 2020
In a very unpredictable turn of events not even a year removed from an extremely successful 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London the world learned that the competition’s oldest sport, wrestling, will be on the chopping block.
Olympic wrestling has been contested at all games except for one since 1896.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” International Olympic Committee 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.” IOC members reviewed 39 criteria including worldwide audience, TV ratings, anti-doping policy, and ticket sales for all 26 sports from the 2012 London Olympics.
The members then voted multiple times by secret ballot to cut the list down to a final group that included wrestling, modern pentathlon, Tae Kwon Do, and field hockey.
Wrestling, which includes both Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines, will now be now compete in a vote against the other seven sports vying for a single spot in the 2020 Games schedule to include baseball/softball, squash, Wushu, roller sports, Karate, sport climbing, and wakeboarding.
The IOC executive board will meet in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics. Women's wrestling was added to the Olympics at the 2004 Athens Games.
Wrestling has long been considered the backbone or a fundamental of MMA. Several mixed martial artists have even competed in or tried out for the Olympic Wrestling teams. The most notable is Rulon Gardner who gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Greco-Roman wrestling upon defeating Russian Aleksandr Karelin, who was previously undefeated in 13 years of international competition.
Gardner later had a brief stint in MMA competing at Pride Shockwave 2004 defeating Japenese Judoka gold medalist, Hidehiko Yoshida by unanimous decision.
Several MMA standouts and personalities took to Facebook and Twitter today with their frustrations on the IOC’s announcement.
@JonnyBones – “Supposedly wrestling has been dropped from the Olympics !?!?? Someone please tell me that’s not true.”
@Benaskren – “Don’t know what to think about wrestling being dropped from the Olympics. It is a travesty and I am trying to get my head around it.”
@PatMiletich – “There has been a push to get MMA in the Olympics, but not at the cost of the greatest sport of wrestling. No f’ing way!”
@TimKennedyMMA – “The Olympic Committee Drops #Wrestling for 2020. Heaven forbid we actually have a hard sport in the Olympics. #Stupid #Idiotic #Cowards #IOC”
Matthew Brown - @IamtheImmortal – “Wrestling is the oldest sport in the world. Keep it in the Olympics!”
@SeanPierson – “Sad day for athletic in my opinion! International Olympic Committee drops wrestling from 2020 Games.”
@ShaneRoller – “#SaveOlympicWrestling This will be horrible for all of wrestling if it happens.”
@SchiavelloVOICE – “RIP Olympic Wrestling. This is truly miserable news. That 10 y.o. kid’s Olympic dream for 2020 is GONE with a stroke of a pen.”
Scott Heckman – “If wrestling is eliminated from the Olympic games, I promise never to watch another Olympic event ever again.”
Luigi Fiorvanti - "Can't believe wrestling got dropped from the Olympics."
Jordan Nicole Gaza – “This is just stupid.”