The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday released its list of proposed sports for the 2020 Summer Olympics, and wrestling was not among the events. The IOC reviewed the list of 26 sports on the current Olympic program and, through a series of votes, decided to remove wrestling from the list of 25 core events.
The process leaves one slot available for the IOC to add a new sport to the program later this year. Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in the 2020 Games, alongside karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and a joint bid from baseball and softball.
The decision was reportedly made in a series of secret ballot votes, in which the IOC executive board voted wrestling out of the core group while retaining taekwondo, field hockey and modern pentathlon.
Wrestling was first contested as a part of the ancient Olympic games and Greco-Roman was included in the Olympics’ first modern iteration in 1896. Though it was not present in 1900, wrestling has since been contested every four years, with the freestyle category being introduced along with weight classes in 1904. Women’s freestyle was first included at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.
Mixed martial arts has served as a professional outlet for many high-level wrestler as MMA’s popularity has grown over the last 20 years. Several of MMA’s most watched prospects have come from a wrestling background, and some of the sport’s top fighters were first Olympic athletes, such as Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner Daniel Cormier and former two-division Pride Fighting Championships king Dan Henderson.