Wrestling: An age-old sport that struggles to stay relevant to the Olympics

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Despite being a pioneer in the sport, wrestling is struggling to win fans after nearly losing its place in the Olympics in 2013 when the International Olympic Committee voted to remove it from its gaming program in 2020.

The decision caused chaos. The president of the sports association FILA (now United World Wrestling) resigned after a motion of no confidence. Two decorated wrestlers returned their medals, and one even went on a hunger strike.

One reason for the drop out has been seen as a lack of star athletes in the sport, although it is very popular in some countries such as Iran, the United States and host Japan.

The IOC had cited low ticket sales, low popularity, low TV ratings, and a lack of oversight and diversity since competitions for women weren’t added until 2004.

As early as 2013, the IOC also found that the international wrestling federation had no athletes in its decision-making bodies, no women’s committee, no ethics rules for technical officials and no medical officer on the board.

Following changes in leadership and program revisions for 2016, including rule changes and additional women’s competitions, the wrestling successfully fought for the resumption of the Olympics.

Still, his future remains uncertain after the next games in 2024.

Dating back to over 15,000 years old cave drawings, wrestling is considered to be one of the oldest sports believed to have been practiced since the dawn of civilization.

Greco-Roman wrestling was the first style of wrestling to be included in the Games, with freestyle in 1904.

Wrestlers engage in intense fights full of powerful and fast movements. The Russian Federation (formerly USSR) has won the most overall medals, followed by top nations such as the United States, Japan, Cuba, Georgia, Iran and Turkey.