World of wrestling reacts to IOC’s decision to drop sport

The IOC's decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics "might just awaken a sleeping giant," said former Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson, right, shown in a 2004 match against Malkaz Jorbenadze of the Republic of Georgia.
(Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)
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The fallout from the International Olympic Committee’s stunning decision to drop wrestling from the Summer Games beginning in 2020 has drawn outrage from wrestling officials and competitors around the world.

Former Olympic champion Cael Sanderson of the U.S. said Tuesday that his sport’s appearance at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games would not be its last.

“It might just awaken a sleeping giant here,” the 2004 Athens champion in 84-kilogram freestyle told the Associated Press. “It’s sickening, really. It makes me sick to think about it.”


In a statement, FILA, the governing board for wrestling, said “FILA will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC Executive Board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games.”

German federation official Jannis Zamanduridis said “a piece of the Olympic idea is dying with this decision.”

Wrestling has been a part of the modern Olympics since they began in 1896. With a total of 18 events for men and women in London, 29 countries won medals.

“That’s mind-boggling,” Khasan Baroev of Russia, the 2004 Olympic champion in Greco-Roman at 120 kilograms, said. “I would understand if Russia had taken all the medals at the London Games, but this touches not only us, it touches the whole world.”

Russia’s Natalya Vorobyeva, who won gold in the women’s 72-kg freestyle in London, said that dropping wrestling “will be a tragedy. I think everything will be all right. Wrestlers will fight for their place at the Games till the end.”

Puerto Rico took home only two medals across 26 sports in London, but one of them was a silver for wrestler Jaime Espinal in the men’s 84-kg class.


“That was a great story,” former IOC executive board member Richard Carrion told the AP. “I’m very sad in the sense that that athlete, and that particular club, were from a very poor neighborhood. They didn’t even have a regulation-size mat and produced three wrestlers that qualified for the Olympic Games.”


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