CORVALLIS, Ore. — The International Olympic Committee voted Tuesday to remove one of their oldest sports from the list. As of Tuesday morning, wrestling will not play a part in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Wrestling is considered one of the oldest sports in history, which is one of the reasons why Coach Jim Zalesky and his team here at Oregon State were shocked when they heard the news this morning, that their sports could *not* be part of the 2020 Olympic games.
Wrestling was part of the ancient Olympics in 708 B.C. It was one of only nine sports when the games returned in 1896.
Wrestling has contributed to basically every Olympics in the games’ history, but the IOC says it could not play a part in the future.
“Not just from a U.S. point of view, but from an international point of view, I think everyone got caught off guard by this,” said Coach Jim Zalesky, Head Wrestling Coach at Oregon State.
Coach Zalesky says there are so many things wrong with the International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling from the 2020 games, but as much as it boggles his mind, it hurts the dreams of his athletes, more.
“That is the ultimate wrestler’s dream, you know, when they get to this point, they get beyond college. That’s their ultimate dream is to wrestle in the Olympics,” said Coach Zalesky.
Zalesky has seen those dreams play out for one Beaver.
“Chad Hanke, our heavy weight this year, took an Olympic red shirt last year and tried out for the Olympics, so you know that’s his dream. He’ll have it in 2016, but the guys beyond, they might not have that dream,” Zalesky said.
The IOC says its vote was based on global participation and popularity. But the wrestling community argues the sports well-covers those categories, with almost 200 countries participating worldwide.
An IOC spokesman says this is a process of renewing and renovating the Olympics, but Coach Zalesky says some of the sports they’re considering to accomplish that renovation are ridiculous.
“The problem I see with the Olympics is that we’re going away from the true Olympic sports and we’re going toward things that aren’t sports, to me they’re not sports. I have to be honest, that’s how I feel, that they’re not sports, and they might as well put in Rock-Paper-Scissors in the Olympics, because that’s the kind of stuff they’re putting in,” Zalesky said.
If wrestling wants to get back into the Olympic games, it will have to go up for consideration against sports like karate, roller sports, wakeboarding and wushu.