Olympics without wrestling? No!

March 28, 2014 | 11:23 am

Gazette Editorial Board

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Slammed to the mat. No doubt thatís how it felt for the many dedicated wrestling fans in this state when they heard Tuesdayís news: The International Olympic Committee wants to drop the sport from the 2020 Games.

No wrestling? One of the founding sports of the first modern Olympics in 1896. Part of the ancient Games in Olympia. How could wrestling ever not be part of the Games?

Because the IOC does what it thinks is best for the Olympics overall ó TV ratings, revenue potential ó not necessarily whatís best for the sport.

The Olympic Games have changed. Professionals are allowed to compete. Costs run in the double-digit billions. Attracting viewers is a huge driver of decisions.

Wrestling still has an outside chance to be part of the 2020 Games. But it must compete for one open spot along with baseball and softball, martial arts karate and wushu, rollersports, wakeboarding, squash and sports climbing. In May, the IOC executive board will decide the survivors for a final vote in September.

The Games are a global stage for many sports that donít otherwise get a lot of public attention. Thatís a plus but thereís a downside if such a sport is axed.

Iowans love and support wrestling, yet the sportís promotion and financial support worldwide likely will suffer if the IOC action isnít reversed. Itís also bad news for Iowa City and Coralville, which set an attendance record as hosts for the Olympic Trials last April and plan to bid for that event beyond 2016.

Itís naive to assume that the Olympics are static. Interests do change. Yet itís just wrong that a sport that has showcased many of the worldís greatest athletes ó Iowaís legendary Dan Gable among them ó may not be represented in the Games seven years from now.

l Comments: editorial@sourcemedia.net or (319) 398-8262

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