x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Wrestling will be back for 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

Wrestling Federation grateful after it wins IOC vote to return at the Tokyo Games while baseball/softball and squash are still out.

After their sport was excluded in February, Olympic wrestlers Ioseb Chugoshvili, right, of Belarus and Poland’s Lukasz Banak will be able to compete again in 2020 when the Games come to Tokyo. Ian Walton / Getty Images
After their sport was excluded in February, Olympic wrestlers Ioseb Chugoshvili, right, of Belarus and Poland’s Lukasz Banak will be able to compete again in 2020 when the Games come to Tokyo. Ian Walton / Getty Images

Wrestling completed an unprecedented Olympic comeback Sunday, reclaiming its spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after beating bids from rivals squash and baseball/softball in an International Olympic Committee vote.

Wrestling, which featured in the ancient Olympics and in every modern Games apart from 1900, had been surprisingly taken out of the Games in February as the IOC looked to refresh its sports programme.

"I want to offer my sincere gratitude to each member of the International Olympic Committee that voted to save Olympic wrestling today," said the delighted international wrestling federation (FILA) president, Nenad Lalovic.

He had taken over in February after wrestling's Olympic exit and has been credited with bringing the sport back into contention after it made a shortlist of candidate sports in May.

"With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference," said Lalovic. "I assure each of you that our modernisation will not stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be."

Sunday's result marks a sensational turnaround for the sport, which overhauled its rules, administration, gender equity and operations following its shock exclusion.

After its changes, wrestling, which had received glowing support from IOC members who were stunned by the executive board decision in February, won an outright majority of votes in the first round.

The sport received 49 of 95 votes, with baseball/softball earning 24 and squash landing 22 votes from the IOC members.

The result was crushing news for both of the other sports that have been trying to win a spot in the Games for up to a decade. Baseball and softball, Olympic sports until the 2008 Beijing Games, hoped for a return to the Olympic fold, while squash, the only one not to have featured in the Olympics, was making its third consecutive bid after 2005 and 2009.

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