What sport should replace wrestling in the Olympics?

Should wrestling replace, uh, wrestling at the Summer Olympics?
(Al Bello / Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee dropped wrestling as a Summer Games sport on Tuesday, meaning that effective with the 2020 Games, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling won’t be a part of the festivities after being in every Summer Olympics since 1896.

There are a handful of sports under consideration to replace wrestling: karate, wakeboarding, roller sports, baseball/softball, wushu, squash, sport climbing. And wrestling can petition to be let back in, though the odds of that happening are long. Which sport would you add to the Games? Reporters from around Tribune Co. answer the question, and you can vote in our poll at the bottom of this post.

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times


Hold on a second before I answer. Have to tie up my horse and take off my fencing gear. Just got back from my modern pentathlon lesson .… OK, the IOC once again has proven why it is up there with the NCAA when it comes to being an organization more about personal agendas and internal politics than the overall good of the constituency. Did I mention Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs (you know, Junior) is a big shot with the modern pentathlon federation? Eliminating wrestling in 2020 could be interpreted as a slap to the U.S. and others, but that would mean the IOC was trying to punish rather than promote its own self-interest. It’s really just self interest. As for a replacement? First I had to look up what wushu was — Chinese martial arts — before deciding we should add back baseball/softball. Yeah, like that will happen.

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune

First of all, wrestling should not be replaced on the Olympic program, in 2020 or ever. But if the International Olympic Committee keeps its head buried firmly in the sand (or elsewhere), I am conflicted about a replacement because baseball and softball have made themselves a single entity in a bid for readmission. Softball belongs; baseball does not, because the sport’s top prize is not Olympic gold but the World Series, and getting its top players to compete midseason remains a problem. Better, however, to get softball back in, even if baseball tags along.

Gary Blockus, Allentown Morning Call

Wrestling shouldn’t be taken off the mat just yet. Sure, it will take a crafty escape to save it, but wrestlers have been known to do that since the ancient sport was introduced as one of the first three sports contested at the original Olympics. FILA, the world governing body of wrestling, has already mobilized and is conducting a special meeting at its World Cup in Thailand this weekend to strategize. USA Wrestling has already taken a lead role with the U.S. response. This isn’t just the U.S., though, this is the world, and there will be significant pressure leading up to the formal May vote to remove it.

No one was prepared to hear that wrestling would be removed from the Olympics. The fact that Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president, is an executive with the International Modern Pentathlon Union and an executive board member of the IOC gives conspiracy theorists plenty to work with.

It’s a shame that only eight sports are on the list of possibilities for the one sport that will be added in September. If modernizing the Games for television and making money are the goals, then just add auto racing, open wheel, drags and stock cars. Heck, the IOC already added tennis and golf.

Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun

If the International Olympic Committee’s true purpose in dropping wrestling is to keep the Games current, the obvious replacement is mixed martial arts.

I know many folks still view the sport as a half-step up from cockfighting. But the reality is that when high school wrestlers dream of the future these days, they probably imagine winning millions of dollars in the octagon rather than donning Olympic gold.

In fact, amateur wrestling is the most useful base for a mixed martial artist. And the UFC’s ranks are filled with former college and international stars. By adding MMA, the IOC would honor the tradition of wrestling while adding a dose of excitement from a newer sport that has run successful events on six continents in recent years.

Sorry, squash and wakeboarding, you’ll never draw 500,000 pay-per-view buys. And for those worried about blood and broken bones, the rules could be modified to emphasize grappling and reduce striking.

If the IOC really wants to turn its unpopular decision on wrestling into an opportunity, MMA is the answer.


IOC votes to drop wrestling from the Summer Games

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

Former IOC president’s son is modern pentathlon vice president