MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wrestling has been part of the Olympics since the 1896 games in Athens, Greece.
But the International Olympic Committee voted to cut the sport from the 2020 Summer games on Tuesday.
The decision is a result of several rounds of voting by IOC leaders, and is part of the committee’s efforts to renew and renovate the games.
Olympian Dennis Koslowski, who won the bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1988, and the silver medal in 1992, isn’t happy with the IOC’s decision.
“It didn’t make a lot of sense to me,” he said. “I was pretty shocked about it.”
Recently, wrestlers from the United States have been successful in both freestyle and Greco-Roman events, winning 13 wrestling medals over the last three summer Olympics, third most behind Russia and Japan.
“How can you keep a program with 26 countries involved, when you have 71 countries involved in wrestling,” Will Short said.
Short is the athletic director and wrestling coach at Simley High School. His program has won nine state wrestling championships and believes the IOC’s decision is based on money.
“I think the IOC is looking at some other sports where they have big-time sponsorships that are going to generate revenue for the Olympics,” Short said.
His son, Jake, wrestles at the University of Minnesota.
Jake’s decision to attend the U was based on being able to compete for a national wrestling championship and eventually train for a spot on the Olympic team.
“But if you say there are no Olympics, then your dream is gone,” Short said.
Said Koslowski: “I hope that there is enough backlash that somehow they can change the opinion.”
USA Wrestling is not taking the IOC’s decision lightly. Social media is being used to spark a grass roots effort to persuade the IOC to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport.
Short says there are more than 300,000 wrestlers in America alone.
He and Koslowski both believe an international movement will pressure the IOC to rethink its decision.