Wrestling: A Sport of Tradition and Passion Cut from the Olympics

Imagine that you have a dream to someday compete in the Olympics. You are driven to train, to improve. You submit to gruelling twice a day practices in the name of achieving your dream. This goes on for many years, and you go from being a child with an outlandish dream, to an mature athlete on the precipice of making that dream a reality. But suddenly, your sport–the sport you have completely given yourself to–is pulled from the Olympics by a committee who, in your eyes, knows next to nothing about your sport or what it represents.

Though the idea of a sport being forcibly removed from the Olympics may seem bizarre, an announcement made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rocked the entire wrestling world to its core. The committee had dropped wrestling, a sport that once occupied a place in the Olympics of Ancient Greece, from the 2020 Olympics.

First and foremost, wrestling is arguably the the world’s oldest sport. Murals of wrestlers adorn ancient Egyptian tombs and religious texts worldwide depict wrestling matches between divine entities. Asiatic wrestling styles have a reported history of over 4,000 years–around 1,500 years before the first Olympics was even held. Additionally, it is outrageous that the IOC would even consider dropping wrestling–a truly universal sport–for such niche sports like golf, synchronized swimming or modern pentathlon.

Wrestling is truly a sport that anyone can compete in, regardless of their stature, nationality or socioeconomic status. And while wrestling’s popularity in the US is minimal, what of nations– especially those in Central Asia, such as Turkey, Mongolia, and former Soviet republics–who pride themselves in wrestling but compete in little else?

Innumerable wrestlers, male and female alike, have dedicated a significant portion of their lives with the hopes of someday competing at the Olympics. Though other athletes may have had their olympic dreams dashed by the cancellation of their respective sports, the breadth and depth of the wrestling world, and the dedication of its athletes is unprecedented. And while I do not want to belittle or discount other sports and athletes, wrestling’s status and the caliber of its competitors is reason enough for it to remain among the olympic roster.

All in all, the IOC has raised its flag–a flag of commercialism and disrespect for a valued traditional sport. The “Olympics” wants its valuable name without honoring its invaluable heritage.