The International Olympic Committee Executive Board has recommended wrestling, baseball/softball and squash be considered for one remaining spot on the 2020 Olympic Summer Games program. The recommendation, made at an IOC meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, will now be forwarded to the full IOC membership, which will choose one of the sports at its September 7 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The three sports were competing with karate, sport climbing, roller sports, wakeboarding and wushu for the final spot remaining on the 2020 schedule. In February, the Executive Board voted to eliminate wrestling from the list of 25 core sports, but allowed it to compete against seven other sports that had been vying for inclusion. The move prompted sweeping changes at FILA, the international wrestling federation, and modifications to the way the sport is contested. The changes, which included the removal of then-FILA President Raphael Martinetti in favor of Nenad Lalovic of Serbia, appeared to have been enough to get wrestling back into consideration. The sport also eliminated several weight classes for men in favor of more for women and changed to cumulative scoring and three two-minute periods.
After its removal in February, wrestling organized an aggressive campaign to return the sport to the Olympics, including several recent U.S. events in New York and Los Angeles to highlight the changes.
Baseball/softball combined for its effort to get back in the Olympics, joining the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation to form the World Baseball Softball Confederation. The sports last appeared at the Olympics in 2008.
Squash has also made changes to its sport in recent years, making it more accessible to spectators and television coverage by requiring its walls be made of glass.
“The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the Board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires. I wish the three shortlisted sports the best of luck in the run-up to the vote in September and would like to thank the other sports for their hard work and dedication.”