IOC's 2020 Olympic shortlist includes wrestling, squash, baseball/softball
Wrestling gets another reprieve
The International Olympic Committee put forth wrestling, squash and a joint baseball/softball bid on the short list for sports to be considered for the 2020 Summer Games.
The IOC made the announcement of the three chosen from a list of eight at the site of its summit this week in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Only one sport will ultimately be chosen in September at meetings in Argentina for inclusion at the 2020 Olympics.
"It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the [IOC executive] board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires," IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a statement.
Sports that lost out after their representatives made 30-minute pitches Wednesday included wakeboarding, wushu, karate, roller sports, and sports climbing.
Wrestling has been given a reprieve for at least a few months more after it was surprisingly dropped from the post-2016 program by the IOC in February, over less globally popular sports such as modern pentathlon.
The international wrestling association FILA responded with changes to its scoring system as well as its internal organization.
Rogge expressed satisfaction with FILA's response last week, but said it offered no guarantees the sport that dates back to the Ancient Games would be ultimately reinstated.
Canadian Olympic gold medallists Carol Huynh and Daniel Igali were among the panellists on hand as part of wrestling's delegation on Wednesday in Russia.
"We are happy and extremely relieved that the IOC executive board has voted to keep wrestling for the final vote in Buenos Aires in Argentina. We as a community have worked extremely hard in the last four months to be where we are today," Don Ryan, president of Wrestling Canada, said in a statement.
"We have not won the battle yet, we must continue as a community to persevere in our efforts," added Ryan.
Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut pointed to the country's impressive Olympic wrestling results since 2000, commenting: "While much work remains before a final decision is made, I remain hopeful that in 2020, we will be celebrating yet more great Canadian Olympic wrestling results."
Squash bidding again, baseball/softball trying to get back
If wrestling is dropped from the program, a new sport will be featured. In 2009, the IOC selected golf and rugby for inclusion beginning at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
On the other hand, the addition of wrestling to the mix didn't go over well with all the sports. If wrestling is reinstated, that will defeat the IOC's original goal of bringing in a new sport in 2020.
The board voted by secret ballot over several rounds, with wrestling winning on the first round with eight of the 14 votes.
Baseball-softball beat karate 9-5 in a head-to-vote to win its spot on the list. Squash got through in the final round, getting eight votes to defeat wushu with four and sport climbing with two.
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 of getting back in.
Squash is bidding for an Olympic spot for a third time.
The 2020 host city will be Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo, a decision that will be made in September in Argentina. Wrestling is particularly popular in Japan and Turkey.
As well, a successor among at least six candidates will be named to replace the Belgian Rogge, who is retiring.
With files from The Associated Press