Amid the International Olympic Committee executive board’s surprising decision on Tuesday to drop wrestling from the 2020 Games, avid followers of the sport, including athletes, have mounted the #SaveOlympicWrestling Twitter campaign.
Before wrestling was dropped from the Olympics, the IOC was working with what it calls 26 “core sports.” By dropping one of these sports, the committee would be able to add a new sport to its program if it chooses to do so.
While the modern pentathlon – which incorporates fencing, horseback riding, shooting, running and swimming – was expected to be the sport dropped for the 2020 Olympics, IOC leaders instead chose to ax wrestling from the program.
Three cities – Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid – are vying to host the 2020 Games. The IOC is expected to make a decision on the host city in early September.
Wrestling has been a staple of the Olympic tradition. The sport has been a part of the Olympics since the 1896 Athens Games.
"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman, Mark Adams, told the Associated Press. "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."
Fans of Olympic wrestling were outraged over the decision, and they have started the hashtag #SaveOlympicWrestling. It went viral on the micro-blogging site shortly after the news of wrestling being dropped from the 2020 Olympics.
“Absolutely ridiculous move by the IOC to want to drop wrestling from the Olympics. #SaveOlympicWrestling,” tweeted Jay Glazer, an NFL insider and co-host of Fox Sports' MMAthletics, a mixed martial arts show.
Jordan Burroughs, who won gold in his wrestling division at the 2012 London Olympics, was saddened, yet optimistic after the ruling.
“It's not over yet. We will keep fighting to save the sport we love. Don't stop dreaming and don't stop believing. #SaveOlympicWrestling,” Burroughs wrote.
Burroughs was referring to the possibility that Olympic wrestling can still be added to the program.
While the sport won’t be considered one of the core competitions, there’s a chance, albeit slight, that Olympic wrestling will be at the 2020 Games.
Wrestling will be one of seven sports vying for a spot on the program with karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboards, wushu and a combined bid from baseball and softball, the AP reported. The newswire service, however, noted that chances are slim that the IOC would add Olympic wrestling so soon after booting it from the core sports list.
"Today's decision is not final," the IOC's Adams said. "The session is sovereign, and the session will make the final decision."
Benson Henderson, an MMA fighter with a wrestling background, tweeted about its contributions to sports.
“#SaveOlympicWrestling All other sports are gr8 and gives back to the athlete but no other sport on this planet gives u what WRESTLING does,” he wrote. “’I swear it upon Zeus an outstanding runner cannot be the equal of an average wrestler.’ #SaveOlympicWrestling.”