WRESTLING, BASEBALL-SOFTBALL AND SQUASH MAKE LIST
By Stephen Wilson, AP Sports Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Wrestling, squash and baseball-softball made the IOC short list Wednesday for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics.
Three months after being dropped from the 2020 program, wrestling took a big step toward keeping its Olympic status.
Eight sports were vying for a single opening in the lineup.
Eliminated from contention were five sports – karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu.
The IOC executive board will submit wrestling, squash and baseball-softball to the full IOC assembly for a final decision on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“It’s a good mix of team sports and individual,” IOC vice president Thomas Bach said.
The decision came after the eight sports federations made closed-door presentations to the IOC executive board.
Men’s baseball and women’s softball, which have been off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games, merged into a single federation to improve their chances.
Squash is bidding for an Olympic spot for a third time.
Wrestling, with a tradition dating to the ancient Olympics, was surprisingly cut from the list of core sports by the IOC board in February. The decision caused an international outcry and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in a bid to bring the sport back.
Spy Note: Spy had a friend in the international media primed to send a one-word message: vasdarovya (cheers) or dasvadonya (goodbye). While there is uncertainty about the single sport that will be chosen in September, the softball world is grateful the sport still has an opportunity. But, the next hurdle is just as high, and the odds still favor wrestling which mounted a very intensive campaign to win back this berth. Much of the national and international press in recent days focused on wrestling history and reinstatement effort. More, three of the nations competing to host 2020 were quoted as saying they wanted wrestling included. Clearly, softball has much work to do.
We anticipate a statement from ISF president Don Porter and will add it to this posting. The following statement was issued by IOC:
The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today recommended that baseball/softball, squash and wrestling be proposed to the 125th IOC Session for possible inclusion as an additional sport on the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The EB selected the three sports by secret ballot from a shortlist of eight that also included karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. The vote followed 30-minute presentations by each International Federation and an extensive evaluation by the Olympic Programme Commission to determine their potential added value to the Games.
The full IOC membership will meet for the 125th Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7 to 10 September and will vote on which of the three sports to add to the programme of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in addition to the 25 core sports – plus golf and rugby sevens* – proposed by the EB in February.
“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.”
In an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games. The Commission uses 39 criteria in determining a sport’s suitability for the Olympic Games, including youth appeal, universality, popularity, good governance, respect for athletes and respect for the Olympic values.
*Golf and rugby sevens were added in 2009 as additional sports to the 2016 Olympic programme.